New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee will be first Head of State from India in 18 years to visit Nepal on a three-day State Visit starting November 2, first after democratic constitution was adopted by Nepal last year which is being seen as “special goodwill visit”.
President Mukherjee is likely to hold discussions on “full range of bilateral, regional and multinational” issues with the political leadership of the Himalayan neighbour ranging from post-earthquake reconstruction projects, concerns of Madhesi community among others.
Among other reasons, political instability in Nepal is seen as a reason for such a long gap in the State Visit to the neighbour. During the three day visit, Mukherjee will be meeting host of political leaders including President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, Vice President Nanda Kishor Pun and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal besides civil society members including Madhesi leaders and ex-servicemen of Indian army belonging to Gurkhas.
When asked about anti-India sentiments in Nepal, Joint Secretary (North) Sudhakar Dalela said, “We are in a phase of very intensive engagement at a political level and functional level. We are trying to work with Government of Nepal in different areas.
“There have been, in the field of trade or economics, cases where we have concerns about our people working there but we are working with Nepal.”
President Mukherjee will be accompanied with high-level delegation of Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, Members of Parliament L Ganesan, Jagadambika Pal, R K Singh besides one more MP whose name is getting finalised, he said.
Besides Kathmandu where the President will hold diplomatic discussions with the Nepalese Government, he will be visiting Janakpur, on the Indian border, considered as hub for Madhesis where he will be accorded a civic reception and Pokhara where he will interact with ex-servicemen of Indian army from Gurkha community. President Mukherjee will also be accorded honorary Doctorate by Kathmandu University.
“I assume discussions will cover all range of issues covering all aspects of bilateral issues, regional issues, international issues…
“During the high level political exchanges we had recently, the Government of Nepal has shared with our leadership its Government’s priority and efforts to address all the Constitutional issues by taking all sections of society on board,” Mr Dalela said on the question of Madhesi community’s concerns in Nepal.
Madhesis constitute about 35 per cent of Nepali population and are connected with India through social and family bonds. He said India has welcomed these efforts and hopes that they will further “consolidate” democracy in Nepal and will bring security peace and prosperity there.
The then President K R Narayanan was the last President to visit Nepal in 1998 and before him, Giani Zail Singh had visited the country in 1986. Mr Dalela said there will no new agreements signed during the visit as the emphasis is on to implement the projects which have already been signed with Nepal.
On the question of Nepal not coming forward with post-earthquake development projects where they needed India’s help, Mr Dalela said, “I must say we are moving forward now….We have received some projects in cultural heritage sector and we are trying to work with Government of Nepal to put in place implementation modalities.”
When asked about cooperation on anti-terror and porous border with Nepal, Mr Dalela said both countries have very strong security cooperation with Nepal. He referred to statement issued by Foreign Office of Nepal, as Chair of SAARC, condemning cross border terror.
He said security agencies of both the countries cooperate very closely and in future this cooperation will be strengthened further.