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Analysis: Is PM Oli Leaning More Towards India Now?

The “courtesy” visit of India’s external intelligence chief Goyal with Nepalese PM Oli and the upcoming visit of Indian army chief Naravane to Nepal may depict PM Oli’s latest tilt towards India. Still, there are many more bilateral issues to be resolved to make Nepal-India relations significantly workable and fruitful.

By N24 Correspondent, KATHMANDU- Earlier, the visit of Indian intelligence chiefs and officials to Nepal used to be highly secretive and would turn into an investigative scoop news for journalists. When Samant Kumar Goyal, the current chief of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) visited Nepal in the third week of October, it became a regular reporting news for media, amid the government of Nepal calling it a “courtesy” visit.

Unlike before, the government did not conceal the visit of RAW chief on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 and even a photo of Goyal talking with Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was made public. Even when the Nepalese government attempted to depict the new scenario as a normal one, the media could not resist discussing the unexpected buzz and whirlwind the situation had invited in Nepal.

PM KP Oli defended the meeting stressing that Goyal came here as an envoy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that he did not know it would be the external intelligence chief of India.

“PM Modi said he is sending his envoy. I said alright but I did not know it was Samant,” PM Oli said.

Despite PM Oli’s statement, sources in Baluwatar said PM Oli already had information it would be no one else but RAW chief Samant Kumar Goyal visiting him as the envoy of Indian PM Modi.

“Goyal came here as Indian PM Modi’s envoy and also for the preparation of Indian army chief’s upcoming visit to Nepal,” said the sources, who did not want to be named.

As per an announcement, Indian Army Chief Manoj Mukund Naravane will land in Kathmandu on a three-day official visit to Nepal on November 4, 2020. Naravane will be feted as the honorary chief of Nepal Army owing to the decades old tradition of feting army chiefs of both the countries.

Analysts, however, do not take this development as a “traditional” one.

“It is now obvious that PM Oli is more tilted towards India on his foreign policy front. The open visit of RAW chief and the upcoming visit of Indian Army Chief are the evidences to it,” they said.

As PM Oli is getting more cozy with India at the time of Covid-19 pandemic, analysts, however, emphasis that PM Oli should now be able to resolve Nepal’s longstanding disputes with India.

“Nepal has border issues with India. Due to the unregulated open border, we do not have data as to who enters Nepal, how long he lives in Nepal, whether he is still in Nepal or has already left Nepal. India also faces the same problem from Nepal’s side. This problem has to be addressed,” the analysts said.

“Further, India needs to give back Nepal’s occupied territories of Kalapani, Limpiadhura and Lipulekh. There should be no obstruction from India on providing international civil aviation space for Nepal. Nepal should have an unrestricted access to the sea ports of Kolkata and other places. Only when these issues are addressed, Nepal and India would be able to have some significantly workable and fruitful relations,” the analysts added.

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