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Nepal: Open Visit of R&AW Chief to Nepal on 21st Oct: Was it Necessary?

Paper No. 6695                           Dated 23-Oct-2020
By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
Many Indian Newspapers and some issues on Strategic Analysis carried the news that the R & AW Chief led a nine-member delegation to Kathmanu on 21st October by noon and is said to have returned the same night.  In all it is said that the delegations stayed in Kathmandu for nine hours.
 
The Chief landed in Kathmandu in a plane with Indian Air force Markings.  He had a one to one meeting with  Prime Minister Oli at the latter’s residence at Baluwatar.  He is also said to have met the Leader of opposition Sher Bahadur Deuba, former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai formerly a Maoist and now a part of the merged Terain Parties as also Mahant Thakur a leading Terain Leader.
 
What is to be noted is not the people whom the Chief met but those who were left out.  This included the Co-Chairman of the Nepal Communist Party, Dahal, two other top leaders Madhav Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal as the also former Foreign Minister and someone close to Dahal- Narayan Kaji Shrestha as well as the other Terain Leader Upendra Yadav.
 
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the meeting.  Surya Thapa, the Press Advisor to the Prime Minister said that the issues like Nepal India Relations, Resolving pending problems through dialogue and continuation of mutual cooperation were discussed but termed it as a “courtesy visit” This means nothing as there appears to have been no agenda for the meeting which the media says was informal.
 
At the moment Nepal- India relations thanks to the border issue and irresponsible statements from the Prime Minister Oli have brought the relations to the lowest point.  There is an intense internal bickering within the Ruling Party and Oli is staying on PM thanks to a band aid solution suggested by the Chinese.  But the differences came out in the open more recently when Dahal’s man- the Chief Minister in Karnali was to face a no confidence motion from his own party colleagues who owe their allegiance to Oli.  
 
Oli has continued to make important appointments including diplomatic posts and cabinet posts without discussing with his senior colleagues as was promised.
 
It was in this situation that the visit of the Chief of the Indian Intelligence took place openly and that with a large number of people accompanying him.  
 
As is mentioned in the media, rarely is a visit of the Intelligence chief known or even reported.  I know of many cases where the Chiefs come quietly and leave quietly and no one knows about it.  Then why was this visit made so publicly and the media particularly the Indian media ( Nepal’s Republic reported also) had gone berserk?
 
One of the media reports said that the visit was to give a “Warning to China!”  The Chinese would definitely come to know even otherwise and their Nepali friends including the PM would have told them to keep the record straight.
 
The visit has naturally raised a huge controversy.  Both the top leaders of the UML faction of the UML, Madhav Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal termed the visit being done in a clandestine manner (?) was detrimental to national interests,   Former Deputy PM Bhim Bahadur Rawal also criticised the visit.  
 
Dahal was once the darling of the Indian establishment made the nastiest remark.  He said that the visit was improper and objectionable.
 
Narayan Kaji Shrestha a former Foreign Minister wanted to know whether the visit was personal or official.  If it was official there should have been an agenda.
 
With PM Oli’s known antipathy towards India, the visit has raised many speculations.  These could have been avoided unless the visit was meant to be made public.  If so the reasons should have been known.  It was not so.
 
The visit could have been organised in a more professional manner as other  Chiefs have done on earlier occasions not only to Nepal but to other neighbouring countries.  I would stop from naming the countries.
 
 
 
 
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