The latest visit of PM Modi to Nepal, his third since assuming office, is one the most under-reported foreign visits of the Prime Minister. This in all possibility is Modi’s last visit to Nepal before the completion of his term in 2019. Nepalese Prime Minister Oil, who has returned to power riding on a spectacular electoral victory, is the first premier enjoying a full majority in the Nepalese Parliament. This gives him the authority to take policy decision unhindered by coalition constraints unlike his predecessors.
Mr Oli had in his last tenure as Prime Minister took Nepal away from India and placed it in Chinese lap. Nepal has signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation under Border Roads Initiative. China is also building trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity incorporating projects on rail, road, dry ports, electricity, communications and air transport. Beijing has initiated the extension of their Xining-Lhasa rail to Nepal’s border and also promised to deliver the international airport at Pokhara by 2021.
New Delhi’s foreign policy failure can be gauged from the fact that Modi was the first Prime Minister to visit Nepal after a gap of 17 Years. Mr Modi deserves credit for proactively pursuing relations with Kathmandu and also revamping the moribund Indian Foreign Office.
In view of the above developments and considering the huge strategic importance Nepal has for India, the visit of Prime Minister assumes even greater significance. Policy makers in New Delhi are pinning high hopes on this visit and hoping it gets Nepal out of the Dragon’s hold. If achieved, this would arguably be one of the single biggest foreign policy achievements of Prime Minister Modi.