Modi and Deuba also discussed ways to strengthen cooperation and coordination in the context of ongoing effort against the covid-19 pandemic
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday spoke to his new Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba and congratulated him on taking charge, a statement said.
Deuba won a vote of confidence on Sunday after a five-member Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives for the second time in five months.
The Nepalese Supreme Court had also asked President Bidya Devi Bhandari to swear in Deuba, 75, the president of Nepali Congress, as the new Prime Minister. He took the oath of office on 13 July.
An Indian statement after Modi’s call with Deuba said that the Indian prime minister conveyed his “congratulations and best wishes for his appointment as the Prime Minister of Nepal and for winning the confidence vote in Parliament."
“Recalling the unique and millenia-old people-to-people linkages that underpin the special friendship between India and Nepal, the leaders agreed to work together to enhance bilateral cooperation in all areas," the Indian statement said.
“They discussed, in particular, ways to strengthen cooperation and coordination in the context of ongoing effort against the covid-19 pandemic," the Indian statement said.
Nepal’s lower house was unconstitutionally dissolved by President Bidya Devi Bhandari for the second time in five months on 22 May on the recommendation of then Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli. But the Nepalese Supreme Court ordered that the house be reinstated.
On Sunday during the confidence vote, Deuba secured 165 votes in the 275-member House, more than the 136 required to win parliament’s confidence. Sunday's outcome of the trust vote paves the way for Deuba to remain in office for next one and a half years until fresh parliamentary election is held, Nepalese news media reported. Had Deuba failed to win the trust vote, it would have led to the dissolution of the House and snap polls within six months in Nepal, which is facing an unprecedented health crisis due to the covid-19 pandemic.
India had an uneasy relationship with former prime minister Oli who was seen as leaning towards India’s strategic rival China in a bid to distance Nepal from India. In contrast, New Delhi is seen as having an easier relationship with the Nepali Congress and its leaders.
The political changes in Nepal come at a time when China is seeking to forge closer relationships with India’s neighbours across South Asia. Nepal under Oli had signed up for the China-South Asian Countries Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Center based in Chongqing City earlier this month. The organization is seen as an alternative to the India-led South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation that is hobbled by India-Pakistan tensions. Besides Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have also signed up for the China-led initiative.
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