From Nepal to India: Busy Day for a President

Nepal President visits India
President Yadav holds meeting with chief of India's ruling alliance Sonia Gandhi. Pic by Dinesh. Rest of the pics by Chandrakishore

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

In the most important and busiest day of his four-day maiden visit to India, President Ram Baran Yadav on Tuesday (today) met several top Indian leaders including counterpart Prativa Patil, Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh and Indian National Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Gandhi, unarguably the most important leader of present day India, went to the Taj Palace hotel to meet the visiting president in the evening.

Before Gandhi, several key cabinet ministers and vice president Hamid Ansari called on the Nepali leader in the hotel. Foreign minister SM Krishna, Finance minister Pranab Mukharjee, Home minister P Chidambaram met the president separately. A new appointment was added in the schedule in which India’s new national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon paid a courtesy call on the president. Commerce minister Anand Sharma and chief of the Congress party’s international department Dr. Karan Singh accompanied Gandhi.

In all of the meetings, UWB has learned, the Indian leaders expressed their concerns on the progress being made in drafting a new constitution in Nepal. They asked whether the constitution writing process would be completed on time, according to President Yadav’s press adviser Rajendra Dahal. Likewise the Indian leaders also keenly inquired about other aspects of the peace process including the governing alliance’s efforts in bringing the UCPN Maoist into confidence. The President is learned to have said that all 22 political parties who supported his controversial move to revoke the then PM’s decision to sack the then Army chief are still undivided and all the political parties in the CA including the Maoists might come together in future as the agenda of change belongs to them. [The Indian side, as it happens in all such occasions, tried to seek assurances from the Nepali side that Nepali land would not be used for anti-India activities.]

Indian media may have ignored the Nepali presidential visit but the warm and high-level welcome that the President got from the Indian political leadership was noteworthy. Some may interpret it as India’s strong approval of the President’s anti-Maoist stand back home.

Prior to the marathon meetings in the hotel the Indian president formally welcomed the Nepali guest in a ceremony in the presidential palace with a 21-gun salute. National anthems of both countries were played during the colorful ceremony. Later in the day, the Prime Minister had lunch with President Yadav in Hyderabad House that is near to the Prime Minister’s office. All key members of the Indian cabinet were present. Nepal and India signed on a new air service agreement and three memorandums of understanding related to development of railway infrastructure in five bordering points and construction of polytechnic institute in Hetauda and a city hall in Birganj. None of the issues are new though.

The Indian press, busy in covering the aftermath of Pune blast, the Maoist attack in West Bengal and impending India-Pakistan talks, didn’t care much about the Nepali presidential visit but the warm and high-level welcome that the president got from the Indian political leadership was noteworthy. This will be interpreted in some quarters in Nepal as India’s strong support to the new Republic in Nepal especially in the context of recent visit by ex-king Gyanendra during which he met some top leaders including Sonia Gandhi. Or, in some other quarters, it could be interpreted as India’s strong approval of the President’s first year in office in which he angered the UCPN Maoist, the largest party in the constituent assembly, that resulting in the former rebel’s exit from the government and the political chaos that exists in Nepal now.

Meanwhile, the President seemed to portray his visit as one far from controversy and one of the regular trips that every Head of State of Nepal is supposed to make. “Nepal-India relations are confluence of political, economic, and unique ties at people-to-people level,” said the president while addressing the dinner party hosted by his Indian counterpart. “It cannot be defined by only one element, let alone be confined to one dimension. These multifaceted and multidimensional relations have been nurtured by frequent contacts and interactions at various levels. I am confident that my first visit to India as the head of state of a new Republic of Nepal will contribute to further consolidating our mutually beneficial close relations.”

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Pune Students Recall Their Visits to German Bakery

Students of Pune’s Bharati Vidyapeeth (Masters in Social Work) say life is uncertain.

Plus: Mourning a Nepali waiter who died in the blast

It was during the New Year eve; I had visited that place and had interacted with the cashier of the German bakery. When I came to know about the blast in the same place, I was really shocked. Suddenly, I went to watch the news channels. The place shown in the T.V. was really terrifying and disheartening. May god give strength to the family and their relatives of those who lost their life and got injured. May their soul be rested in peace in heaven. by Pratiksha Shrestha

It is rightly said that future is uncertain, so we should make the best of our presence. I am saying so, because today staying in the city of Pune where bomb blast took place and witnessing all the chaos feels really terrifying. Today I recalled that day when I and my friends visited German bakery on the new year eve to celebrate and today the same place has been destroyed and many innocents have victimized, but, I would just pray to god almighty to save the people and give strength to those people who have lost their near and dear ones and may the soul rest in peace who are no more amongst us. by Fatima Sayed

I am deeply shock with what happen in German bakery. I along with my friends used to visit that place once in a while. I am doing my research project on Nepali people and I was to go there for my data collection, but unfortunately, this happened. Our life is so uncertain. Anything can happen to us at any instant. So, at this hour of distress, I would like to express my heartfelt condolence to the family who have lost their dear ones and speedy recovery to those who are injured. May the departed soul rest in peace. by Abani Dhewajoo

‘Full of life, Gokul wanted to return home to Nepal’

By Anuradha Mascarenhas in the Indian Express
It was only a day before the bomb blast that 57-year-old Shunyam van Steveninck, a Dutch painter, had met her friend Gokul Nepali (Padewa), a waiter at German Bakery. Gokul had given her his address in Bagmati zone of Nepal and wished her a good life. That was the last time they met. The 19-year-old was among those killed in the blast; the bomb went off as he touched the unclaimed bag lying below a table at the eatery.

Shunyam, who has been visiting Osho International Meditation Centre for the past 26 years and been a regular at the eatery, says, “I’ve made several friends here and no terror attack will ever make me bid adieu to my second home.”

She visited the morgue to pay her last respect to Gokul. “My husband Vigyano and I were trying to locate Gokul at three to four hospitals on Sunday only to discover that his body is now lying in the morgue. No one has claimed it so far and I hope the police get in touch with his family in Nepal,” says Shunyam.

Shunyam also visited Shrikrishna Thapa and Paras Rimal, Nepali waiters at the bakery, admitted in a city hospital with injuries. Thapa, who has completed 10 years at the bakery, remembers Gokul as a hardworking boy. “Yes he is married and wanted to go back to Nepal. But his family is very poor,” says Thapa.

Shunyam reiterates, “I just met him a day before the bomb blast at the bakery where he works and he was so full of life and waiting to go back to Nepal to meet his wife.”

“He shook our hands and wished my husband and me a good life. He even gave me the address of his native place in Nepal and told me to visit his wife,” she says. “I cannot believe Gokul is dead.”

She now plans to meet his other Nepali friends who stay near ABC farms at Koregaon Park so that they can inform his wife.

Related link:

1. When India suffers, Nepalis share the pain: Blast at German Bakery, Pune