The president wasn’t accorded similar levels of hospitality on all fronts: India rejected his request to supply more sugar to Nepal.
By Dinesh Wagle
The Wagle Notes
President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav returned home on Thursday (yesterday) completing his four-day visit to India. It was a mixed bag. To his supporters, New Delhi not only expressed solidarity with the budding Nepali republic but also demonstrated strong support for the president for his hardline position against the Maoist-led government. His detractors, especially the Maoists, could argue that it was but natural for Delhi to accord the president a warm welcome. Delhi, to this group, gave him a ‘thank you’ for doing what he was asked to do: revoke the Maoist-led government’s decision to sack the then-Army chief Rookmangud Katawal.
Some Nepal-watchers here say New Delhi has no illusion about the ceremonial status of Nepal’s president. “After all, it is the political parties, including the Maoists, who have to come together to complete the work on the constitution,” said an Indian analyst insisting anonymity. “Indians know they can back the president only so far. If they push more than what is seen as undermining the democratic process in Nepal, they will be facing the wrath of the Nepali people as it happened in the 2006 movement.” New Delhi changed tack as Nepalis continued with the movement ignoring Delhi’s initial efforts to bring together monarchy and political parties and restore democracy.
The president wasn’t accorded similar levels of hospitality on all fronts. New Delhi, for example, rejected the visiting dignitary’s request to supply more sugar to Nepal. “India is learnt to have refused the visiting president’s request to provide sugar to the neighbouring country,” said Thursday’s edition of The Indian Express. “The denial comes at a time when the [government has decided] to export 10,000 tonnes of sugar to the European Union.” India will be selling wheat to Nepal because, according to a news report, “world’s second-biggest producer of the staple runs out of storage space ahead of an expected record harvest.”
Even the soft loan of US$ 250 million that India said it would provide to Nepal comes with riders. “We have to find a project and get Indian approval,” said a Nepali embassy official in Delhi. “Only if they like the project will they provide the loan. Moreover, Nepal has to give priority to Indian contractors.”
Some memoranda of understanding including an agreement were signed during the visit but none of them were entirely new and specifically drafted for the presidential trip. The MOU on expanding Indian railways network to bordering Nepali towns has been in the works for the past four years, said the Nepali official.