Nepal cancels president’s visit to Delhi, recalls envoy

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Nepal cancels president’s visit to Delhi, recalls envoy NEW DELHI: The Nepal government has cancelled the trip of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari to India barely 72 hours before her departure for Delhi, without giving any reason, The Indian Express said on Saturday. Describing the move as without parallel, the paper said Kathmandu had also recalled its ambassador, Deep Kumar Upadhyay in Delhi. “Both these acts came barely 24 hours after Prime Minister K. P. Oli defeated a move to unseat him from the post, under an initiative taken by the main opposition party, the Nepali Congress. The move was to have seen Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists and the second largest constituent in the cabinet, lead the new government,” the Express said. It said the move collapsed at the last minute after Dahal entered into a fresh deal extracting promises from Mr Oli that he will withdraw all politically motivated cases pending against Maoist leaders and cadres during the decade-long insurgency dating back to 1996. The Express said Mr Oli reportedly believes that India was behind the move to topple him. The decision to scrap president’s visit to Delhi, along with the recall of Ambassador Upadhyay, clearly indicate that Mr Oli is upset with India. A seasoned Nepali diplomat, someone not enamored of India and its role in Nepal, went to the extent of calling it an ‘unfriendly act’, the Express said. Ms Bhandari who became president a week after Mr Oli, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), took over as the prime minister in October, belonged to the same faction of party, and apparently does not differ much in her views on India. Her proposed visit was being viewed as a move to explore traditional cordiality in bilateral relations that suffered a series of setbacks especially after India supported the Madhesi groups anti-constitution protests and the subsequent blockade for months beginning in September, causing Nepal an acute shortage of essential goods and fuel. Indian analysts have criticized the Modi government in Delhi for apparently pushing a tenuously neutral Nepal into the arms of China. Mr Oli’s visit to India in February had failed to bring relations back to track, and in a visible rebound, he signed a series of agreements with China that certainly will have impact on Nepal-India relations as well, the paper said.

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