KATHMANDU, Aug 12: The government has decided to send its two deputy prime ministers to India and China respectively with a view to inform the two neighboring countries about the changed political scenario in Nepal and lay the ground for top-level political visits to and from both the southern and northern neighbors.
A cabinet meeting held at Singha Durbar on Thursday decided to send Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi to India and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara to China. The two will pay goodwill visits as special envoys of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who became head of the government on August 3. The government however has yet to fix the dates for the visits.
The deputy prime ministers' visits will be the first foreign trips by any government minister since the formation of the Dahal government.
The government decision comes at a time when the previous government is widely believed to have been toppled by the NC and the CPN (Maoist Center) in collusion with the Indian ruling establishment.
Incumbent ministers said the visits are aimed at improving relations with both the neighboring countries. Relations with India soured mainly because of the nearly five-month blockade imposed by the Indians following the promulgation of the new constitution last September.
Nidhi's visit may create an environment for a prime ministerial visit to India.
Similarly, Mahara's visit to China is believed to be aimed at laying the ground for Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Nepal in October and for implementing the agreements signed between the two sides during previous prime minister KP Oli's visit to China earlier this year.
Nidhi is seen as a leader having good relations with the Indian establishment while Mahara is believed to have good rapport with the Chinese.
Minister for Supply Dipak Bohora said that the visits are aimed at strengthening the bilateral relations of Nepal with the two neighboring countries. “Their visits will be goodwill visits. They will inform our neighbors about the recent political changes in Nepal and also about the new government's eagerness to cooperate with the two counties,” he said.
However, one of the officials involved in overseeing external affairs informed that the prime minister basically wanted to send a special envoy to China with a view to ensure the Chinese president's visit here.
“But the government decided to send a similar envoy to India because sending an envoy only to China might send a message to the south that the present government is tilted to the north,” the official told Republica, requesting anonymity. “The prime minister didn't want to send any message to India that may fuel suspicions while we are striving to improve relations that have soured since last year.”
Meanwhile, the meeting also decided to direct the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce to take initiatives to control prices, the black market and adulteration of consumer goods. The meeting has also directed the law ministry to come up with a proposal to amend the laws for clamping down on adulteration, the black market and artificial shortages.
Rules tweaked to appoint PM advisor
The cabinet meeting also decided to change the regulations on good governance to appoint Chakrapani [Baldev] Khanal as chief political advisor of Prime Minister Dahal. Under the existing regulations, it is mandatory for any aspirant to the post to have a master's degree. Khanal didn't complete his higher education.