Hosting Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” for the first time in his second stint as the Prime Minister of Nepal, India Friday asked the visiting leader to implement his country’s Constitution by accommodating aspirations of all sections. Top sources in the government told The Indian Express that this was India’s most important message during the bilateral conversation when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Prachanda. This was especially significant after Prachanda’s predecessor K P Sharma Oli’s resistance to take the Madhesis and the Janjatis on board, according to the sources.
Prachanda, who appears more receptive to India’s concerns, has given positive signals during their “restricted” as well as “delegation-level” talks, the sources added.
Keen not to repeat his “past mistakes”, Prachanda is learnt to have recalled a saying by former Nepal PM Girija Prasad Koirala: “When one loses one’s way in a jungle, one should start retracing one’s steps backwards.” This is learnt to have broken the ice between Modi and Prachanda as they sat down for a conversation.
After their talks in Hyderabad House, Modi said, with Prachanda listening in, “I am confident that under your leadership Nepal will be successful in implementing the Constitution through inclusive dialogue accommodating aspirations of all sections of the diverse society.”
While the Prime Minister was direct about New Delhi’s expectation from his Nepal counterpart, Prachanda said his government is making sincere efforts in taking every section of society on board while implementing provisions of the Constitution. “I shared with Modiji that promulgation of the Constitution last year by the popularly elected Constituent Assembly was a historic achievement for people of Nepal. You are aware that my government has made serious efforts to bring everyone on board as we enter the phase of implementation,” he said.
Almost as a quid pro quo — without saying so — Modi conveyed India’s readiness to help Nepal in its development. “I conveyed to Prachanda that India stands ready and prepared to strengthen the development partnership with Nepal and we will do so as per priorities of people and (the) government of Nepal,” he said.
Modi’s “extensive and productive dialogue” with Prachanda was characterised as “very cordial” and “very positive” by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar. The essence of their conversation was “what we can do together”, Jaishankar added.
In this context, the two sides signed three agreements, including one on India extending $750 million for post-earthquake reconstruction in Nepal. The two countries also decided to continue cooperation in areas of defence and security. This reiteration of the continued cooperation is extremely important for New Delhi, as the neighbours share a porous border and Nepal has traditionally been used as the transit for counterfeit Indian currency and terror activities.
“Our security interests are interlinked,” Modi said. “Securing our societies is essential for achieving shared objectives of development and growth…. As immediate neighbours and close friendly nations, peace, stability and economic prosperity (‘shanti, sthirta aur samrudhi’) of Nepal is our shared objective.”
Prachanda said his country has nothing but “goodwill” for India and that destinies of the two countries are “interlinked”.