Nepal’s Prime Minister Prachanda is likely to make India his first foreign trip destination after assuming office unlike in 2008 when he visited China first as his special envoy arrived in New Delhi on Thursday to prepare the ground for his visit.
The Maoist chief, who was elected by lawmakers to the top post for the second time earlier this month, had rubbed India the wrong way when he chose China as his first destination after taking over as the premier in 2008 and attended the Beijing Olympics that year.
Prachanda’s predecessor, K P Oli too visited India as his first official foreign destination. But the run up to his visit was surrounded by intense speculation that the Communist leader might visit China ahead of India.
It is learnt that Prachanda will visit India ahead of China this time, Nepalese sources said.
The indication about Prachanda’s maiden foreign visit came as Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs Bimlendra Nidhi arrived in New Delhi for a two-day visit during which he will hold talks with Indian leaders.
His visit is aimed at preparing ground for Prachanda’s forthcoming visit to India, Nepalese foreign ministry sources said.
Nidhi is also expected to discuss the possible visit by President Pranab Mukherjee to Nepal and the proposed visit by Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari to India, they said.
The visit is also aimed at normalising and improving Nepal’s relations with India, which were at an all-time low since the promulgation of the Constitution in Nepal last year and over the Madhesi agitation.
Prachanda has sent a special envoy to China as well.
Deputy Prime Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara’s visit to China comes following anxieties in Beijing over the fate of projects connecting China and Nepal to reduce dependence on India.
"India shares unique centuries old ties with Nepal. Our age-old ties have been nurtured by regular high-level exchanges," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in New Delhi.
The visit of special envoy Bimalendra Nidhi is the first high-level visit from Nepal to India after the formation of the new government in Nepal under Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, he noted.