New Delhi: A70-member Nepalese delegation led by Maoist prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, which arrived in India on Sunday, is likely to discuss what the Himalayan nation considers “unfair treaties” such as the 1950 Indo-Nepal peace treaty and the 1954 Kosi river water-sharing treaty.
Dahal’s first official visit to India follows the tragic breach in the Kosi’s embankment in Nepal which led to massive flooding in Bihar affecting millions of people.
The delegation which includes a 30-member business team, is also likely to discuss energy cooperation.
“There is a general agreement between India and Nepal on energy cooperation. However, this bilateral mechanism has been slow. The thrust will be to enliven these relations,” Durgesh Man Singh, Nepal’s envoy to India, told Mint.
“The strengthening of ties between the two countries in all sectors, including political relations and economic and trade cooperation, will be the main focus of the discussions,” said E. Ahamed, India’s minister of state for external affairs.
The Nepalese envoy neatly skirted comments on treaty reviews saying, “It is for the leaders of the two countries to decide upon the same.”
However, Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for power, said, “We have to respect the sensitivity of a small country which sees itself as sovereign and independent nation... This is not the first time it has raised the issue of Indo-Nepal peace treaty.”
The Committee for Solidarity with Nepal has demanded a fresh look at the India-Nepal peace treaty of 1950. The panel was set up on 4 February 2004 to strengthen the movement for restoration of democracy in the neighbouring country.
“The talks will be to flag many issues which will determine the future of India-Nepal relations. One point of discussion will be the India-Nepal peace treaty, which needs to be reviewed,” Sitaram Yechury, politburo member, Communist Party of India (Marxist), said.
The peace treaty allows for free movement of people and goods between the two nations and close ties on defence and foreign affairs.
D. Raja, national secretary of Communist Party of India and a Rajya Sabha MP, said, “This is a crucial visit.. the maintenance of the Kosi river, other water-sharing projects and scope of joint hydel power projects will come under discussion.” Yechury and Raja are members of the solidarity committee.