As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi transits Kathmandu between two political pilgrimages to Janakpur and Muktinath this weekend, there is hope, dismay and even confusion in Nepal. Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli will jointly lay the foundation stone for the 900-MW Arun 111 hydro power project, being constructed with Indian assistance of an estimated ₹6,000 crore in Eastern Nepal.
In the evening, Modi will hold delegation-level talks with Oli.
Addressing the parliament, Minister Gyawali said Modi will pay courtesy calls on President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and Vice-president Nanda Bahadur Pun on May 11. "(PM Modi) he is coming here for the first time along with Nepal's Prime Minister (KP Sharma Oli)". Although the Oli-led CPN-UML had raised the issue of the blockade during the election campaign and nationalist slogans, after winning the election the Leftist party toned down its voice and adopted a positive attitude towards India, Mahat said.
Oli on Tuesday held discussions with former prime ministers and former foreign ministers about Modi's visit.
PM will leave for Kathmandu later, where he will be given ceremonial reception. Security has been tightened in the country and as many as 11,000 security personnel from both countries will be deployed during the visit. This is the first high-level visit from India since the formation of the new Government in Nepal.
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Starting the Arun III hydropower project is the main highlight of the visit.
So it is perhaps with a measure of dismay that New Delhi views the return of Oli as his country's prime minister. Prior to PM's visit to Ram Janaki temple in Nepal, temple priests have made arrangements inside the temple premises. This is seen as an attempt by New Delhi to counter China's reported moves to build a rail link between Tibet and Kathmandu. "I am confident that my visit will further cement our people-centric partnership with Nepal on the basis of mutual benefit, goodwill and understanding", Mr Modi added.
Asked whether India will press for amendment in Nepal's Constitution as sought by Indian-origin Madhesi groups, the sources said that leaders from the community have already come to power in a province and that India will be observing the developments there.
The sources said there may be an announcement on the proposed Ramayan circuit, under which fifteen destinations like Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur and Chitrakoot will be developed to promote religious tourism.