--BY MADAN LAMSAL
This time, too, Prime Minister Oli first went to India, not China. Oli couldn't help heading south once he stepped out of Baluwatar the weather seemed as still cold on the north. It's almost certain that he will head north, as the weather will become a bit warmer in the North soon.
This india visit in particular was successful in more ways than one. One, according to the PM, no Nepali river was 'sold' to India this time. I can't help thinking how you sell rivers which have been flowing through the same place for aeons - from Nepal to India! Whether you sell them or not, the Nepali rivers will keep reaching India.
Oli had left for India promising the Nepalis that he will not talk about rivers during his visit. But, apparently, he couldn't avoid it and returned with the new dream of bringing ships to Nepal up the Indian rivers! India, too, is yet to realise its old dream known as the great River-linking Project through which it wants to connect the rivers within India and then with Nepal.
It is however a bit difficult to fathom how ships bearing the Nepali national flag will come to Nepal from the bay of Bengal. Perhaps the bridges built along the future water way from Kolkata's Hugli to India's Ganges and Nepal's Koshi, Gandaki and Karnali rivers and the pillars of those bridges will play the great villain when it comes to realising this great dream. Though, it would be fantastic if be enough to carry containers could somehow reach Nepal this way.
Anyway, Oli has dared to dream what others haven't. Only time will tell if he has dreamed a bit too much. For now, let's be optimistic that small steamers (Let's call them ships to please our dreamer prime minister!) will be able to come to Nepal this way if not in our time then in our children’s, or our children’s children’s time. you may say, Oli is a dreamer. but i hope come day we all will join him.
This visit should be considered successful also because, as the PM said, no old wounds were scratched this time. Old issues and old wounds are often painful. So our prime minister thought it better to avoid them. Also, it is not appropriate for a communist leader who enjoys a two-thirds majority back home to raise old issues and look regressive! Going ahead is the way forward. That's why the communists keep talking about taking the 'big leap forward'.
As the PM was in no mood at all to talk about old issues, there was no mention of even the two-year-old issue of exchanging the crores of Indian currency in Nepal that have become trash after India's demonatisation. Likewise, not even a word was wasted on Nepal's ever-rising trade deficit with India because this is also an old issue. And because it's an issue for the traders! Similarly, not even a word about the Pancheswar Project (why raise an issue which reminds you of the Panchayat regime!).
For the same reason, neither the issue of Postal Highway, nor BIPPA nor energy banking was raised up. No wonder our prime minister totally forgot about the old issue of an agreement on a new aerial route between India and Nepal. The list of old issues is a long one. But what's the use of talking about old issues? Unresolved old issues can give you a headache!
Also, the 12 point joint communique and agreements attached are different. For one thing, the agreement are so brief that it is difficult to say if it is an agreement or the minutes of a meeting! Perhaps bearded Modi and his clean-shaved Nepali counterpart inked a 'short and sweet' deal, thinking that long-winded, wordy agreements are of no use. Similar agreements of the past would have the details of Indian assistance and cooperation in road, transport and infrastructure projects. But see they are not in implementation. so, these brief now once are going to be implemented for sure, because Oli says No.
It seems India has just realised that Nepal is an agricultural country. That's why, during this visit by Oli, it talked about helping Nepal develop the agriculture sector. It also mentioned building water ways, oil pipeline (we can also call it Oli pipeline) and railways from India to Nepal... You just watch, India will bring ships to Nepal one day even if there is no water way; it will bring trains to Nepal even if there is no railway. What more do you need?
And this is why the recent India visit by PM Oli should be termed not only successful but greatly successful and historic.