On his third visit to Nepal since he became the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi chose Janakpur, the birthplace of Goddess Sita, to connect with the people of the Himalayan nation.
Speaking at a reception held in his honour in the holy city located in Dhanusa district of Nepal’s Province-2, the PM began with an apology.
“When I became the PM of India in 2014, I had announced in the constitutional meeting that I will soon visit Janakpur. I apologise for the delay in arrival,” he said to thousands of people who had gathered at the venue to catch a glimpse of Modi.
The PM then hailed the relation between India and Nepal likening it to the relation between Ayodhya and Janakpur under King Dashrath and King Janak.
“India and Nepal are two nations who are tied by a history spanning eras. Raja Dasdhrath and Raja Janak not only tied Ayodhya and Janakpur but also India and Nepal in a bond of friendship,” said Modi.
The PM said that the bond of friendship between the two countries is like the “bond Ram and Sita, of Buddha and Mahavira”.
“This bond brings a devotee from Rameshwaram to Pashupatinath,” said the PM, adding “This bond takes the one in Lumbini to Bodh Gaya. It is this attachment, this faith, this love that has brought me to Janakpur.”
Highlighting the religious significance of Janakpur, the PM said that Ayodhya would be incomplete without Janaki – a reference to Sita.
“Janakpuri shows how to respect women. Women have made the greatest contribution towards popularising the Mithila painting, in which we see the concern for nature and environment,” the PM said.
In the region which has a strong Madhesi population speaking Bhojpuri and Maithili besides Nepali, the PM praised Mithila’s culture as well as the contribution of women in its progression.
“Mithila’s culture has a very high place in the world,” he said while specifically mentioning folk art and hospitality.
It is noteworthy that the PM’s visit is being seen as an attempt at “resetting ties” with Nepal following the 2015 Madhesi crisis which soured the ties between the two neighbours.
“India and Nepal are tied to each other with the language of faith, bonding, food and daughter,” the PM stressed.
He said that the relationship between the two countries was beyond strategic, diplomatic and political. “We are tied by Dev-niti. People and governments will come and go but this relation will remain forever,” he emphasised.
The PM reminded the people of Janakpur that India and Nepal have stood shoulder-to-shoulder to face problems while adding that Nepal comes first in India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
Congratulating the people and the government for conducting successful elections in 2017, PM Modi expressed hope in democracy acting as a guiding light for the two nations.
He praised Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s vision of a happy and prosperous Nepal adding that India, too, has always wanted the same for the Himalayan nation nestled between India and China.
“When I talk about ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’,” the PM said referring to his most popular slogan, “I also hope for the development of our neighbourhood.”
Earlier today, the PM along with his Nepalese counterpart flagged off a bus from Janakpur to Ayodhya after offering prayers at the Janaki temple.
Speaking on the occasion, the PM expressed confidence that the bus service will contribute to the strengthening of tourism ties between the two countries.
“Ramayan Circuit will prove to be a stellar example for tourism ties between the two nations in a time when tourism is developing across the world at a rapid pace,” said PM Modi.
“The circuit will pave the way for a strong foundation economic growth, cultural strength and people-to-people contact between India and Nepal,” he added before ending his short address by thanking PM Oli, the Nepalese government and local officials for the warm welcome.