Kathmandu, Dec 28 (PTI) In 2021, affected by political turmoil and the coronavirus pandemic, Nepal made efforts to reinvigorate its bilateral ties with India with high-level talks and visits. All this happened amid a change in the top leadership in the Himalayan nation.
Coming out of the shadow of the border dispute that plagued India-Nepal bilateral ties last year, India gifted Nepal one million doses of the domestically manufactured KoviShield vaccine in early January 2021, at a time when it faced the coronavirus pandemic. was fighting to stop it from spreading. The deadly virus has so far infected more than 8,25,000 people in Nepal and killed around 12,000.
In the same month, India provided a grant-in-aid of 30.66 crore Nepalese rupees (Rs 19.21 crore) to Nepal as part of its commitment to rebuild educational institutions damaged during the devastating 2015 earthquake. About 9,000 people died in this earthquake and about 22,000 were injured. With this, India reimbursed Nepalese Rupees 81.98 crore (Rs 51.37 crore) for the reconstruction projects of the educational sector.
Bilateral ties hit a new low in 2020 after Nepal released a new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories, to which India warned Kathmandu that such “artificial extension” will not be acceptable to him.
On the domestic political front, Nepal saw a change in top leadership in 2021, with Nepali Congress (NC) chief Sher Bahadur Deuba becoming prime minister for a record fifth time in July after a month-long dramatic development.
The top court, in a landmark judgment on July 12, directed President Vidya Devi Bhandari to appoint opposition leader Deuba as prime minister and struck down his “unconstitutional” move to dissolve the House of Representatives.
Deuba formally became the Prime Minister of Nepal on 13 July. However, a few days later, on 18 July, the 75-year-old new prime minister surprised and won a comfortable victory when he called for a trust vote in the restored lower house, averting a general election in the Himalayan nation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Gone.
A day later, on July 19, Deuba during a telephonic conversation with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi shared his views on further strengthening bilateral ties based on centuries-old historical, cultural, traditional and religious ties.
This year saw the main opposition party and the largest Communist Party of Nepal, the CPN-UML, officially split in August, when senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal left the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and formed the CPN-Unified Socialist Party. established.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister of Nepal KP Sharma Oli continued his streak of inciting controversy by making remarks related to India. In June, while as prime minister, Oli claimed at an event to mark the International Day of Yoga that yoga originated in Nepal and not India.
However, Oli’s remarks this time failed to do any major damage to bilateral ties. He had courted a controversy in 2020 by claiming that Lord Rama was born in the Madi region of Chitwan district of Nepal and not in Ayodhya, India.
Nepal’s then Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali visited New Delhi in January and met his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar. During the visit, he said resolving the border issue is a “shared commitment” of both New Delhi and Kathmandu and suggested that both sides are working out modalities to deal with it.
Efforts continued in the Deuba administration to accelerate Nepal-India bilateral relations and to raise the level of bilateral engagement. The two sides have held several rounds of talks since Deuba came to power in July.
In September, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Jaishankar met his new Nepalese counterpart Dr Narayan Khadka in New York and the two agreed to work together to advance the special relationship between the two countries.
In early November, on the sidelines of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow, Prime Minister Modi met Deuba for the first time since taking over as the head of the Himalayan nation and sought to strengthen bilateral ties and combat climate change, COVID-19. And had a ‘meaningful discussion’ on the efforts to recover after the epidemic.
In the same month, Nepal’s Army Chief General Prabhu Ram Sharma embarked on a four-day visit to India to enhance defense ties between the two neighboring countries. General Sharma, who arrived in New Delhi at the invitation of his Indian counterpart General Manoj Mukund Naravane, was conferred with the honorary title of ‘General of the Indian Army’ by President Ram Nath Covid.