NEW DELHI, OCT 15 – Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s four-day official visit to India that begins Thursday is seen with great deal of “anticipation”, according to officials, former diplomats, and party and civil society leaders.
Coincidently, Bhattarai’s visit follows high-level trips to India by heads of states of Afghanistan, Vietnam and Myanmar–all of them holding tremendous strategic importance for India.
“Nepal has always been an extremely important country for India. Moreover, Prime Minister Bhattarai is visiting New Delhi at a time when Nepal is close to completing the important tasks of the peace and constitution-drafting processes and hence his visit is of great significance,” said a source close to the government.
There is an understanding in New Delhi that Nepali political actors are now left with the last opportunity to deliver their promises of completing the peace process and promulgating the new statute.
“People’s frustration is on the rise. So political parties should be dead serious in thinking that this is the last opportunity to complete the tasks, “said Ananda Swarup Verma, a senior journalist.
Indian officials worry that failure on the part of political actors to deliver again in Kathmandu could give rise to a chaotic situation that could also affect India.
“When it comes to Nepal, the most important subject, unambiguously and unequivocally for India now, is to help Nepal complete those tasks successfully,” said former Indian Ambassador to Nepal Shiv Shanker Mukherjee.
This visit will also present an unprecedented opportunity for both sides to talk candidly and have a clear understanding of policies of both countries towards each other, which will eventually boost up bilateral relations, added Mukherjee.
General Secretary of the ruling Nationalist Party DP Tripathi concurs and sees Bhattarai’s upcoming visit as a ‘very positive’ development in bilateral relationship.
“We are very happy that Bhattarai chose India for his first formal visit as prime minister. It is a very welcome attitude, especially by a Maoist prime minister,” he maintained.
Senior journalist Verma also viewed this visit as a chance for Nepal to allay Indian suspicion that Nepal is gravitating too close to Chinese sphere.
Bhattarai to stay in luxury hotel
The Indian government has made arrangement of accommodation for PM Bhattarai in Hotel Leela–one of the most expensive luxury hotels in New Delhi. Bhattarai is probably the first top foreign dignitary to stay in that hotel, which started its operation five months ago. The charges of the hotel’s room and suite range from 25,000 to 550,000 Indian rupees per night, according to the hotel’s website.(Mahesh Acharya ekantipur)