Nepal’s foreign affairs minister visiting India amid crisis at home–to talk domestic politics more than anything else

Foreign Affairs Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali during a press meet, in Kathmandu, on Sunday, December 6, 2020.

Kathmandu, January 7

Nepal’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali is preparing to visit India next week for a meeting of the joint commission between the two countries.

Although the meeting will have a regular agenda covering a host of issues concerning bilateral relations between the two countries, experts and stakeholders say Gyawali will talk more about politics with Indian leaders than anything else during this visit.

There are a few reasons to justify the claim. First, the visit is taking place at a time when the country’s domestic political crisis has reached its peak. The ruling party has split and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s decision to dissolve the House of Representatives and announce fresh elections dates is challenged at the Supreme Court.

“In such a situation, traditionally, the visitor informs the other party of the political situation at home,” a Foreign Affairs Ministry official says.

Geopolitical analyst Chandra Dev Bhatta says India inviting Gyawali at this time suggests it wants to discuss Nepali politics with him.

The second reason why Gyawali is likely to talk about politics than anything else is that he is not authorised to make crucial agreements of long-term importance as the government, which he is a part of, has already turned into a caretaker one with new election dates announced.

Former secretary Shanta Raj Subedi says the minister should not go to India around this time if possible. But, even if he goes, he should not make any crucial agreement, he suggests.

However, the ministry officials also say Gyawali will raise concerns about the border dispute between the two countries and the import of Covid-19 vaccines also during the joint commission meeting.

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