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Nepal president Bidya Devi Bhandari arrives in India today on five-day visit

LiveMint logoLiveMint 17-04-2017 Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: Nepalese president Bidya Devi Bhandari arrives Monday for a five-day visit to India, seen as a key marker of warmer ties between the two countries after months of tensions between the two neighbours over Nepal’s new constitution.

Bhandari’s India visit is her first state visit abroad after assuming office in October 2015. “A high-level delegation comprising ministers, MPs and senior officials will be accompanying her. Her visit will reflect the priority that India attaches to further strengthening the age-old and unique partnership with Nepal, shared cultural and historical linkages and strong people-to-people relationship,” Sudhakar Dalela, joint secretary dealing with Nepal in the external affairs ministry, said over the weekend.

During her stay in India, Bhandari will meet President Pranab Mukherjee, vice-president Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and other leaders, Dalela said.

“The President will host a banquet in her honour on 18 April. She will also visit Gujarat and Odisha and pay obeisance at temples of Dwarka, Somnath and Puri,” Dalela added.

Bhandari was scheduled to visit India in May last year, but it was cancelled after the then cabinet in Nepal did not endorse the programme, citing lack of preparations on the part of the government. The bilateral ties were rocked in 2015 by protests from the Madhesis, Tharus and Janjatis over what they saw as discrimination against them in favour of the Nepalese hill tribes in the provisions of the new Nepalese constitution in 2015. India’s position—which seemed to favour the Madhesis, Tharus and Janjatis—resulted in tensions with the government in Kathmandu. Protestors from Nepal blocking key supply routes to the country from India was seen as a “blockade” imposed by New Delhi though India denied any such charges.

Bhandari’s scheduled visit in May last year was called off by then prime minister K.P.Sharma Oli, who believed that India was instrumental in cobbling up an alliance of parties in Nepal to topple his government.

Ties between India and Nepal have stabilised to some extent after the swearing-in of the Pushp Kamal Dahal government in August.

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