A high-level delegation representing the ruling Nepali Congress will arrive in New Delhi on Thursday. The delegation led by former Foreign Minister of Nepal Prakash Sharan Mahat is expected to interact with the leading figures of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and is being viewed as an outreach from Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba towards the Indian government. Mr. Mahat will be accompanied by Nepal political leaders Udaya Shumsher Rana and Ajay Chaurasia.
“This is a reciprocal visit aimed at strengthening party to party relations,” Mr. Mahat told The Kathmandu Post , explaining that the visit is a response to the recent visits of BJP office-bearers to Kathmandu. The visit will be keenly observed in both Kathmandu and here as Mr. Deuba’s government has hinted that it will not compromise on the territorial dispute of Kalapani.
The visit is the first that the ruling Nepali Congress is attempting after Mr. Deuba took charge in July after the Supreme Court of Nepal dismissed former Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s government. Mr. Oli had repeatedly antagonised India during May-June 2020 when the territorial dispute over Kalapani flared up between India and Nepal. However, Mr. Oli had apparently reached a quiet understanding with India and had even hosted Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, re-starting official exchanges.
Ever since, party-level visits have taken place from the Indian side to Nepal to sense the mood of the current Nepalese leadership. Chief of the foreign affairs cell of the BJP, Vijay Chauthaiwale, paid two visits to Nepal in the last few months during which he met with a series of leading figures of the Nepali Congress, and Madhesi leaders.
India and Nepal last week inaugurated post-earthquake reconstruction projects in the Kavrepalanchowk district, which was badly affected by the 2015 earthquake. The engagement took place days after External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar met the newly appointed Foreign Minister of Nepal, Dr. Narayan Khadka, in New York. Though the aim of the upcoming visit is expected to upgrade ties and start high-level official visits, Kathmandu has not yet softened its position on the Kalapani issue. Mr. Deuba’s government declared in September that it will conduct a census in the Indian side of Kalapani.