Prachanda on three-day India visit: What is his real agenda is everyone’s guess 

Prachanda, a former supreme commander of guerrilla war in Nepal, announced the visit suddenly. Experts and observers in Kathmandu have also raised the issue of apparent breach of diplomatic norms during the visit.

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Nepal’s former two-term Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, has been in India since Friday at the invitation of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president JP Nadda. 

The visit came just two days after Nepal’s top leaders held talks with the head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Liu Jianchao in Kathmandu. This has created a question: whether the visit is aimed at taming Chinese influence in Nepal? 

Dahal, a leader who used to dub India an ‘expansionist force’ during Maoist insurgency period, has, however, categorically denied any possible connection between the visit of the Chinese leader to Nepal and his India visit. 

Despite the claim, he has left the room for questions as the visit was announced suddenly and even the Maoist party leaders, reportedly, were not aware of his visit. 

Personal gains over national interest? 

Journalists in Kathmandu were told that the visit is aimed at strengthening party-to-party relationship with India’s ruling BJP. The claim, however, has already turned out to be false.

Even Ram Karki, a Maoist leader who is also deputy head of the Foreign Department of Maoist-Center, had no information about the visit, according to a BBC Nepali Service report. 

If it was to strengthen party-to-party relationship between Maoist Center and BJP, there should have been more preparation and open discussion within the party, a Maoist leader told Nepal Live Today under the condition of anonymity. 

Prachanda with Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in New Delhi.

“Party-to-party relationship is a face-saving excuse for Prachanda. In reality, this visit is linked with his ambition to become the Prime Minister for the third term,” he said. “Prachanda knows that the remaining leaders in the party are not in the position to question his actions. So he can go to any extent to fulfill his personal ambition.”

Meeting with Arzu 

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s wife and Nepali Congress leader Arzu Rana Deuba was already in Delhi when Prachanda reached there.

The two met there in New Delhi as well.

Ever since Deuba took office in July, 2021, his wife has been frequenting to New Delhi and has been meeting key BJP leaders in every trip. 

Some of the party insiders suspect that madam Deuba is dominating, even interfering, in Nepal’s foreign policy matters.

Many in Kathmandu suspect that BJP, through actors like Prachanda and Arzu Deuba, is looking to push the Hindutva agenda in Nepal. 

Thus Prachanda and Arzu Deuba being in Delhi at the same time, party insiders insist, is not just a matter of coincidence.

Breach of diplomatic norms

As per diplomatic norms, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is supposed to record all diplomatic meetings and engagements and the diplomats themselves should inform the ministry.

Prachanda has not involved anybody from the ministry of foreign affairs in his meetings with key Indian leaders, including the Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar.  He is known to be going to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well and the meeting is likely to be one-on-one.  In that case, said an expert of diplomatic affairs, we will not know what compromises he will make. “He could be asked to do anything by the Indian leaders and he might promise that he would do their bidding,” said the expert. According to him, we may come to know about such deals some years later but by that time, the damage will already have been done. “Prachanda should tell the Nepali people what he said to Indian leaders and what the Indian leaders told him,” said the expert. “In other words, he must tell us why he visited India in the first place.  He should tell us the truth.”