Cabinet reshuffle in Nepal, Army Chief’s visit, ties with India heading for a reset
New Delhi, Oct 15: The visit by India's Army Chief General M M Naravane and the shunting out of Ishwar Pokhrel from Nepal's defence ministry are two key developments that suggest that the ties between the two nations are being reset.
Nepal's Prime Minister, K P Oli shunted out deputy PM, Pokhrel out of the defence ministry in a cabinet reshuffle and officials say that this indicates that this is an effort to reset ties with India.
The Nepal media said that Pokhrel would be attached to the Prime Minister's Office and this would effectively mean he would be without portfolio. Pokhrel has been a critic of India and had even tried to provoke India's Gorkha soldiers.
Officials tell OneIndia that PM Oli had laid the groundwork for his Indian outreach in August this year. He had dialled Prime Minister Narendra Modi and greeted him on the 74th year of India's independence. He also stopped the distribution of a new text book which included the country's revised political map which shows three strategically important Indian areas as part of its territory.
The official cited above says that this development comes in the wake of the Indian Army Chief visiting Nepal on November 3. Pokhrel had opposed the visit by General Naravane and said that India should sit across the table first and discuss the boundary dispute between the two countries.
Officials said General Naravane will be conferred the honorary rank of 'General of the Nepal Army' by Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari during his visit, in continuation of an age-old tradition that first started in 1950, reflecting the strong ties between the two militaries.
India also confers the honorary rank of 'General of Indian Army' to the Nepal Army Chief.
"The Chief of Army Staff will travel to Nepal early next month. The dates of his visit are being finalised," said an official.
During his visit, Gen Naravane is scheduled to hold extensive talks with the top military brass of Nepal including his Nepalese counterpart General Purna Chandra Thapa and Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel, the officials said.
"Ways to further deepen defence cooperation between the two countries will be explored during the Chief of Army Staff's visit to Kathmandu," said a senior official.
The ties between the two countries came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.
Nepal protested the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through its territory. Days later, Nepal came out with the new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories.