Sushma Swaraj’s Visit To Nepal: Reaching new heights of Himalayas

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s two-day visit to Nepal is of great significance to both countries as the Left Alliance in Nepal is poised to form a new government in the Himalayan nation after having won the recent Parliamentary and Provincial Assembly elections with a big margin. She was accompanied by a high-level delegation that included Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale. EAM Swaraj is the first senior Minister from India to visit Nepal after the completion of local bodies, provincial assemblies and federal Parliament elections.

EAM Swaraj held wide-ranging discussions with leaders of various political parties in Nepal on issues of mutual interest and latest political developments. She called on Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and President Bidya Devi Bhandari during her stay in Kathmandu. She met Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), CPN (UML) K. P. Sharma ‘Oli’ and congratulated him on his party’s victory in the recent elections. The two leaders held discussions on ways to take the special relationship between India and Nepal forward and on the latest political developments.

According to External Affairs Ministry, EAM Swaraj visited Nepal in an effort to reach out to Nepal’s political leadership ahead of the formation of a new government by the Left Alliance. Mr K.P. Sharma ‘Oli’ is widely expected to be the next Prime Minister of Nepal. The Indian Minister told Mr Oli that India was eager to work closely with the new government in Nepal. Mr Oli hosted a dinner in honour of the visiting Indian dignitary.

All the six Presidium members of the Rashtriya Janata Party Nepal called on EAM Swaraj and discussed the latest political developments in the country with her. According to Presidium member Rajendra Mahato, EAM Swaraj welcomed the unity of ‘Madesh’ centric parties and exhorted them to honour the peoples’ mandate to form the government in the Province, where they have been voted to power. She also met the leader of Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, another Madesh centric party. She had wide-ranging discussions with the Maoist Centre Chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ on all aspects of India Nepal relations.

The Left Alliance of CPN (UML) led by Oli and Maoist Centre headed by Dahal jointly fought the polls to Federal Parliament and Provincial Assemblies held the last year-end. Soon after completion of the elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to top Nepali leaders Oli, Dahal and Deuba and complimented them on the successful completion of all three-tier elections in Nepal which he said will strengthen democracy, bring political stability and lead Nepal towards economic stability. Mr Modi again spoke to Oli on 21st January to invite him to visit India, which he accepted. Mr Oli also extended an invitation to the Indian Prime Minister to visit Nepal.

The Left Alliance in Nepal is not yet able to shape up its government or achieve unification of Alliance partners CPN (UML) and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), which their leaders promised in October last year before jointly going into elections. They are still struggling on both fronts. But with Provincial Governors in position and newly elected members of all seven Assemblies taking oath, election to National Assembly, the Upper House of Parliament announced, the ongoing talks between top leadership of CPN (UML) and Maoist Centre on government formation, have given hope that the new Prime Minister could be sworn in by this month end.

Political analysts in Kathmandu believe that the visit by India’s Foreign Minister at this juncture is a very important step to improve relations between the two countries. Prime Minister Modi speaking twice to Mr Oli in less than a month is also seen as a manifestation of India’s resolve to maintain close friendly ties and improve relations with Nepal. The visit to Kathmandu by EAM Swaraj was also in the same context and as part of the regular high-level engagements between India and Nepal. The talks she held in Kathmandu with wide political spectrum reflects the importance the two countries attach to further strengthening their bilateral cooperation and friendship.


ALSO READ: Has India lost Nepal to China: Fate of a landlocked country


Rattan Saldi is a Strategic Analyst on Nepal and a frequent contributor to AIR World Services 

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