Indian stakeholders say Bhattarai’s visit was successful

NEW DELHI, OCT 25 – Before embarking on his India visit, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai publicly said, “The main objective of my trip would be to sort out bilateral misgivings and misunderstandings”.

At the end of the visit, he shared his conclusion that the trip was largely successful in its objective though his ‘success’ seems to be overshadowed after being ‘encircled’ by his fellow cadres over the agreement he signed.

Here in New Delhi, the Indian side, while concurring with Bhattarai’s assessment, has also termed his visit as extremely significant.

“It has been a useful, meaningful and fruitful visit. Both the sides discussed a host of bilateral issues openly, ” said Vishnu Prakash, spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

Another high-level Indian official added that the visit was successful in eliminating the trust deficit between the two sides, referring to suspicions the Indian establishment has had about Maoist intentions.

“This visit has manifested the political seriousness of the Maoists and has been a step towards creating investment-friendly environment in Nepal,” said the official requesting anonymity. “But we are yet to see the implementation of those commitments.”

Echoing the official, former ambassador to Nepal Shivshankar Mukherjee said that the visit provided an opportunity for both the sides to sort out suspicions and openly discuss each other’s concerns. Mukherjee–now an advisor to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries, opined that the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) is of extreme significance.

“Though we are still to see how it works, BIPPA has created a deep confidence in Indian investors,” he said.

Renowned political analyst and columnist C Rajamohan noted the instances of ‘positive gestures’ shown by the Indian side during the visit. Firstly, India agreed to a group of eminent persons to review, adjust and update the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty and other agreements.

Explaining that this visit helped reduce the suspicions regarding the intentions of Maoists, Rajamohan interpreted the outcomes as India’s readiness to engage with Maoists in Nepal. He also termed Bhattarai’s proposal of Nepal wanting to be a vibrant bridge between India and China as a good approach.

In view of DP Tripathi–general secretary of the ruling Nationalist Congress Party and Chairman of Nepal Democracy Solidarity Committee, Bhattarai’s visit is successful in the sense that India committed to help implement development projects as prioritised by Nepal government.

“Equally, the visit is successful in building confidence between the two countries,” he added. However, Nihar Nayak, a Nepal analyst at the Indian government-funded Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, put a different opinion.

“The visit is significant in that it provided an opportunity for both the sides to discuss almost all bilateral issues openly. But the suspicions about Maoists could not be sorted out completely,” he said. “Fifty percent suspicion has been over; the other 50 remains. The Maoist hard-line faction is creating hurdles,” he argued.Mahesh Achcarya ekantipur

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