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Deuba’s Delhi date 

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017
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1Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s India visit date has been finalized, but not his agenda.

Baluwatar sources said PM Deuba, accompanied by wife Arzoo Rana, will leave for New Delhi on 23 August for a five-day India visit. Deuba will meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25 August before flying further south to observe an Indian state-run Information Technology Institute in Hyderabad.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) officials on Tuesday briefed PM Deuba about the mutually-agreed date and tentative schedule for his tour. However, the main agenda for his visit are still being worked out.

Some big ticket projects like the Pancheshwor dam, Arun III and Upper Karnali which date back to the 1990s are likely to top the list of discussion points. India’s pledge for post-earthquake reconstruction in Nepal, cross-border railway and construction of a Nepal Police academy are other possible agreements.

Ministry of Energy (MoE) officials are also trying to insert an agenda on cross-border power trade in that list. Last year, India issued guidelines allowing the import of hydroelectricity generated from only those projects that have at least 51% share of the Indian government or companies. This move was clearly aimed at discouraging other countries, particularly China, from investing in Nepal’s mega hydro-power projects.

MoE authorities say the Indian guidelines on cross-border power trade are in violation of the Nepal-India power trade agreement in 2013, which was signed before Modi’s BJP came to power. However, within India the trade guidelines have been hailed as one of Modi’s master strokes aimed at protecting the national interest. But that was a huge blow to Nepal’s plan to attract foreign investment, and generate 10,000 MW electricity by 2020.

It is yet to see if MoE authorities will succeed in having this issue as one of the talking points between the two prime ministers. PM Deuba will have his own political agenda as well and is expected to seek India’s support in persuading the Madhes-based Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP) to participate in the final phase of local elections on 18 September in Province 2.

Even without the RJP, there will be local elections in Province 2, but it may lack moral mandate. In August 2015, Deuba had ganged up with Maoist Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal to topple the UML government, with a promise to implement the Constitution by securing ‘broader consensus’.

Two of the three major Madhes-based parties have already participated in the previous two rounds of local elections, but the RJP is not on the board yet. Getting the RJP agree to elections will be seen as a brownie point for Deuba which could be why he has been desperate to push through the Delhi visit ahead of the Province 2 elections.

Foreign affairs experts had suggested it was not a wise idea for Nepal’s PM to visit India when it is facing off with China over the Doklam issue.

Om Astha Rai

 

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2 Responses to “Deuba’s Delhi date ”

  1. Different regionalisms | on Says:

    […] Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, whose country hosts the SAARC Secretariat, must in his forthcoming visit to New Delhi try to convince Narendra Modi on resuscitating the […]

  2. Different regionalisms – Kanak Mani Dixit on Says:

    […] Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, whose country hosts the SAARC Secretariat, must in his forthcoming visit to New Delhi try to convince Narendra Modi on resuscitating the […]

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