New Delhi — Within a month after Prime Minister K.P. Oli’s visit to Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Nepal for a reciprocal two-day visit on May 11. The prime minister is scheduled to take stock of pending India-Nepal initiatives and visit two religious sites. Oli had chosen India for his first foreign visit in his second term in early April.
The prime minister will leave by helicopter for the Nepali city of Janakpur on May 11 morning. While the details are still being worked out, if the PM leaves from Patna, the journey would be a two-hour chopper journey.
The Nepalese prime minister will also be in Janakpur to receive Modi at the Janaki temple. After that, the two prime ministers will launch a bus services to Ayodhya and the Ramayana tourism circuit project before attending a civic reception.
In the forenoon, Modi will travel to Kathmandu where he will get a ceremonial reception. He will be meeting the Nepali leadership, including former Nepali prime ministers Sher Bahadur Deuba and Pushpa Kamal Dahal. The two major Madhesi parties, who have now formed the government in province 2, have also been given time to meet Modi.
On May 12, he will travel to Muktinath for a visit to a temple. Nepali authorities have already banned trekking and flights along the popular Thorong La pass to address security concerns. He will return to Kathmandu for a civic reception, before returning to Delhi.
According to sources, the quick reciprocal visit by the Indian PM is the result of PM Oli’s insistence. “When PM Modi had spoken to Oli to congratulate him on becoming PM, the latter had urged him to make an early return visit. The prime minister’s willingness to make this visit so soon shows a certain comfort level with the Nepali leadership and his keen interest to build trust,” the source said.
The emphasis on “trust” is a result of Oli’s antagonism towards India for allegedly being behind the 2015 ‘blockade’ and keeping the Madhesi agitation simmering. India had also been suspicious of Oli leaning towards China, with talks of opening the border and transport links across the Tibetan plateau into Nepal.
Modi’s trip to Nepal this week would be the first time that he has travelled thrice to a South Asian country. Sources say that the main purpose of the visit is to build on Oli’s visit – “principally to carry forward the new initiatives and implement pending proposals”.
With a stable government in Kathmandu, India is hoping that the implementation of many development projects which were stuck due to issues from the Nepali side like land acquisition and forest clearances will be accelerated. “Our hope is that we will receive greater coordination and cooperation from their end,” said sources.
The two prime ministers will jointly inaugurate the 900 megawatt Arun-3 hydropower project, which costs around Rs 5,800 crore. During Oli’s visit, one of the new initiatives was an agreement on the use of inland waterways, so that land-locked Nepal gets another transport link.
Sources said that the process to amend the Treaty of Transit has begun to include the use of waterways, but is unlikely to be finalised during this visit. Meanwhile, India is looking forward to completing modalities to sign an MoU with Nepal over the next few months for conducting a survey for the ambitious Kathmandu-Raxaul rail link.