2018-01-31, Pankaj Thapa
Sushma Swaraj, India’s External Affairs Minister will be paying a two day visit to Kathmandu. In her official meet she will be meeting top political leaders of the nation, including the next to be Prime Minister K P Oli. Her visit comes just ahead of the formation of the new government – a leftist politics alliance with better attachments to China – speculations therefore are natural. The Indian government has strained its relationship with Nepal, especially with the 2015 unofficial blockade which crippled the nation’s economy and caused a humanitarian crisis. The K P Oli led government did not yield instead opened up platforms for new trade and business relationships with its northern neighbour China. In September last year, China and Nepal agreed to start technical work to build a cross-border railway link via Tibet to boost connectivity. Nepal also recently ended India’s monopoly over internet services in the country and joined hands with China to offer internet services to its citizens.
This perhaps can be construed as a Modi government’s initiative to mend ties with Nepal and the Indian media is all over it. While The Hindu has said “Sushma Swaraj to engage new Nepal government”, The Statesman has gone to the extent of saying “Sushma to woo new Nepal leadership”.
The Indian media when they were here the last time did not win any particular favours of the Nepalese either, instead triggered a #gobackindianmedia trend. Indian media and journalists were accused of not understanding the sentiments of Nepali people during the earthquake and ‘over-sensationalising’ the stories when being broadcasted back home.