‘Nepal president disappointed over India visit cancellation’

New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari is reportedly very disappointed with the decision of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli government to cancel her visit to India.

“I have learnt from sources close to the president that she is very upset by the Oli government’s decision to cancel her visit,” Vijay Kanti Lal Karna, former Nepalese ambassador to Denmark, told IANS over phone from Kathmandu on Saturday.

“She was really keen to maintain good relations with India,” he said.

Bhandari, Nepal’s first woman president, was to embark on her first official visit to India next week on the invitation of President Pranab Mukherjee.

Karna said the Nepal cabinet took the decision to cancel the president’s visit following political upheaval in the Himalayan nation two days ago when Oli’s government was nearly toppled by its Maoist ally.

According to Karna, what is all the more surprising is that the process of President Bhandari’s visit was actually initiated by the Nepali side after Oli’s visit to India in February this year.

“This is a very dangerous game being played by Oli,” Karna warned.

“Just imagine, only two days back, the president invited the Indian ambassador to dinner and the visit was very much on track,” he said.

“The survival of this country is dependent on close relations with India.”

Karna said that Oli was apparently trying to take revenge against India for allegedly interfering in Nepal’s internal affairs.

“But the fact of the matter is that Oli has started a campaign of ultra-nationalism which is against India, against Madhesis,” Karna said.

“He is trying to show off that he is a very big nationalist.”

He also alleged that Oli was trying to bully the country’s bureaucracy and the judiciary.

“Oli is trying to appoint 5,000 bureaucrats. Eleven judges nominated by the government to the Supreme Court are loyal to the CPN-UML and six of them are party cadres,” the former diplomat said.

Karna was also critical of the way Nepal’s Ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyay was recalled from New Delhi.

“The envoy played a key role in mending ties with India and was busy preparing for the president’s visit when he came to know of the cancellation,” he said.

On Friday, the Nepal government decided to recall its envoy Upadhyay.

The recall decision came after Uphadhya held a conversation with Oli on Friday morning and reportedly made his displeasure known to the prime minister on the cancellation of the president’s visit.

Oli reportedly told Uphadhya that “if you have such kind of reservation about the cancellation of the visit, you can quit”.

“It is very disappointing the way the government is using the media (in Nepal) to discredit the envoy,” Karna said

Upadhyay, a Nepali Congress member, is a three-time MP and two-time minister.

On Wednesday, Oli’s seven-month-old Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) government teetered on the brink of collapse after its ally, the United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), led by chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda, decided to form a new government by withdrawing support to it. The decision was backed by the main opposition Nepali Congress which offered the prime minister’s post to Prachanda.

It is learnt that the UCPN-M was reportedly unhappy with the CPN-UML not opposing the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission calling up former Maoist leaders to face trial.

However, the following day, the Oli government got a reprieve when the UCPN-M did a U-turn and decided not to withdraw support for the time being.

The U-turn came about following a “secret agreement” between Oli and Prachanda during a dinner meeting on Wednesday, it is believed.

(Aroonim Bhuyan can be reached at aroonim.b@ians.in)

–IANS

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