The fast-paced political developments in Nepal where Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s seven-month-old government was teetering on the brink of collapse till a day ago are believed to be the reason for the abrupt cancellation of Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s visit to India, sources 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.
Sources in India said: “We have learnt that Nepali President Bidyadevi Bhandari’s official visit to India has been postponed by the Nepali side. We understand that this is on account of the political developments in Nepal.”
The sudden calling off of the visit came a day after the Oli government got a reprieve when the ruling alliance partner UCPN-Maoist did a U-turn and decided not to withdraw support for the time being.
The Maoist party on Wednesday had decided to form a new government by withdrawing support to it, backed by the main opposition Nepali Congress which offered the prime minister’s post to Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda.
The U-turn came about following a “secret agreement” between Oli and Prachanda during a dinner meeting on Wednesday, it is believed.
In a related development, the Nepal government on Friday decided to recall its ambassador to India Deep Kumar Uphadhya.
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Oli on Friday in Kathmandu.
The recall decision came after Uphadhya held a conversation with Oli in the morning and reportedly made his displeasure known to the prime minister on the cancellation of the president’s visit.
President Bhandari’s India visit was cancelled by Nepal unilaterally, without informing the envoy.
“It does not look good at a time when Nepal-India ties are back on track and as an ambassador I was not even informed and consulted before the cancellation of the visit,” Uphadhya reportedly told the prime minister.
Oli reportedly told Uphadhya that “if you have such kind of reservation about the cancellation of the visit, you can quit”.
The Nepali government also accused Ambassador Upadhya of being active in Kathmandu and New Delhi in trying to topple the Oli-led government. Uphadhya is a senior leader of the Nepali Congress which is now in the opposition.
The differences between the prime minister and the ambassador over the cancellation of the president’s visit led the Cabinet to recall Uphadhya.
During the Cabinet meeting, Oli instructed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa to recall ambassador Uphadhya immediately.
Uphadhya, it was alleged, is involved and active in toppling the government, propping up the Madhes-based political parties for agitation, and was getting involved in various activities inside Nepal and India.
A top aide to Oli said the prime minister was for long unhappy with Uphadhya and his recall is only a manifestation of Oli’s perception of some of Uphadhya’s activities as improper for an ambassador.