Amity With All, Enmity With None
Finally, the much talked- about state visit of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to India has come to a successful end with some visible achievements. The visit has indeed put an end to the chilled relations between Nepal and India experienced earlier.
During the span of about seven decade-long bilateral relations with India, Nepali people had undergone the experiences of happy and worrying days. With the changed political landscape in Nepal, the current situational circumstances seem more favorable compared to some previous years. The federal parliamentary and provincial elections held last year have tossed the two left leaning parties UML and Maoist Centre to an enviable position of the secure political power in Nepal. Prime Minister Oli has been firmly installed as a chosen leader of the left alliance with the possibility of securing two-thirds majority if the Madhesh-based party/parties finally join the government some time later. Oli is politically assured of his continued political authority as decisive Prime Minister for a period of five years placing him in a firmer position of confidence to lead the country towards the much- needed political stability. This has given him political strength that is greatly essential to navigate foreign policy particularly handling political relations with India to direct all relevant policies. Similarly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sees his continued leadership for long.
The political strategies of Prime Minister Oli augur good for the betterment of Nepal-India ties with a greater degree of predictability, and more so of certainty for translating into reality what have been signed as agreements and memorandums at least for the period of five years to come. It is reportedly said that the strained relations between the two leaders for the past few years have turned into good neighbourliness signalling improvement of not only state-to-state relations between Nepal and India but also of personal touch at the higher political level. Media reports have it that the visit after the conclusion of two rounds of talks, first one-to-one and second officially, has been responsible for creating an amicable ambience to bring two Prime Ministers together for enhancing their personal familiarity to an agreeable point of meeting minds with each other.
As a well crafted strategic preparation before the visit, Prime Minister Oli timely managed the gathering of all heads of Diplomatic Missions of Corps Diplomatique (CD) based in Kathmandu at the premises of his official residence at Baluwatar on March 27. He clearly explained the basic premises and principles of the foreign policy of his government to all diplomats present on the occasion. In his address, he stressed the great political significance of independent foreign policy as its core principle to maintain and protect Nepal’s centuries old independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity as also to enhance its image in the international community. He also meant the socio-economic development of the country through adoption of independent foreign policy with the embrace of “Amity with All, Enmity with None”. More importantly, he had also put appropriate emphasis on maintaining good relations with neighbours based on sovereign equality and balanced policy by paying due attention to their sensitivity.
As it is a usual practice, Prime Minister Oli addressed the federal parliament to keep all its members informed about the intention and significance of his upcoming visit to India. He also garnered opinion and views of all former Prime Minister of Nepal and shared their experiences of dealing with India. In fact, he had been enriched with ideas much needed for improvement on Nepal’s relation with India.
Before departure for the visit to India, his addresses and speeches have profusely indicated that his nationalist zeal and fervour is very lively and strong with the popular support amassed. All those are wise practices sending important message to the whole world, particularly to neighbours that he firmly stands for the country and its people to materialise his much pronounced motto of Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali.
On the conclusion of the state visit, the two Prime Ministers issued a joint press statement wherein the two very significant provision of connecting Kathmandu with India through railway line and access to the sea for Nepal through the inland waterway and cooperation in agriculture have figured up as new steps for cooperation. The statement also stated to expedite implementation of major projects. Unlike in the past, it seems that there should be no delay and excuse to materialise what have been said and signed by both sides. It would be better if projects are implemented as scheduled. However, no outstanding problems and issues like border disputes, soaring trade deficit, big troubles faced by border people could get space in the statement as lamented by critics.
To those critics, Prime Minister Oli on his return to Kathmandu gave straight- forward reply that he spared no time and minced no word to represent Nepal’s core interests and values based on sovereign equality during his state visit to India.
Political leaders officially involved in the state visit are content with the establishment of good contacts between two Prime Ministers and real achievements made after the conclusion of visit. Critics on both sides comment that the Modi government has been in a diplomatic hurry to wean away a highly popular Prime Minister Oli from the Chinese influence by alluring with much coveted extension of offer and cooperation from the Indian government as affectionate gifts to the Nepali people. This argument seems immature and inappropriate. Prime Minister Oli is a statesman who knows well the national interests of Nepal vis-à-vis India and China. He is expected to sincerely work as Prime Minister of Nepal relying on the fundamental basis of the balance of interests of all three neighbours. He is a pragmatic politician grown into a statesman. Moreover, it is well known that China is never averse to Nepal making good relations with India.
Experts believe that neighbourly relations between Nepal and India are, as of yet, founded on geo-circumstances that emanate from geo-determinants and geo-political culture. Prominent politicians of Nepal must subtly understand the evolving outcomes of circumstantial occurrence and need to be tactful in handling deftly, and the failure means grappling with the same situational difficulties as experienced earlier. Watchful eyes and sensitive minds are of utmost political significance to marshal bilateral relations wherein lies success - the success that beacons the trajectory far ahead.