Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli shakes hands with PM Modi during a visit to the Janaki temple in Janakpur. Photograph:( AFP )
The Indian Prime Ministers two-day visit that focused on faith as the common link is over. It was PM Modi's faith diplomacy that was the main highlight of the visit. The visit started at Janakpur’s Janaki temple. Along with Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, PM Modi flagged off the Janakpur Ayodhya bus service. The bus service connects Janakpur— the birthplace of Goddess Sita with the birthplace of God Ram in Uttar Pradesh. This will not only help in connecting the two cities but increase two-way tourism between India and Nepal.
At a public address thereafter PM Modi had a heart to heart talk with the people of Nepal. He said, “India is incomplete without Nepal”, referring to the common cultural connect. A number of Hindu pilgrimage sites are in Nepal. At the same public reception, he lauded Nepal’s democratic process and said Nepal opted for ballot over bullet and Buddha over Yudh.
He visited Mukhtinath and Kathmandu’s Pashupatinath. Muktinath in north Nepal is an important site of pilgrimage for Hindus and is revered by both Hindus and Buddhist.
This was his second visit to Pashupatinath. In his maiden visit to Nepal after taking charge as the Prime Minister, Modi had first visited the holy temple in Kathmandu.
At his second public felicitation in Kathmandu, he said he will come again, this time to visit Lumbini which he referred to as “birthplace of Buddha in Nepal”. It has been a light-hearted issue of discord between India and Nepal once with both claiming Buddha was born in the respective countries. So the debate is settled once and for all.
Other than faith, the focus was also on infrastructure and connectivity. On the connectivity front, India will build a railway line connecting Kathmandu with Raxaul. This will connect Kathmandu with Indian railway network. Inland waterway system is also been explored. Kosi will soon see inland waterway connectivity with an Indian team coming soon to Nepal for a feasibility study.
As Indian PM during the joint statement at the Diwarika hotel in Kathmandu said, “Nepal is no longer landlocked, its land linked and water linked”.
On the infrastructure front, both PM’s inaugurated Arun 3 project, which will be the largest infrastructure project in Nepal. India PM said that this will create “economic opportunities in Nepal”.
In a symbolic move, the Mayor of Kathmandu handed over keys of the city to Indian PM signifying that the city will be always open to PM Modi. While reactivation of SAARC was not discussed Bimstec summit will soon be held in Nepal.
But one question was on the mind of everyone. Was the visit timed so that BJP gets the benefit in Karnataka polls? During the press briefing, this question was asked by media to which foreign secretary replied,” dates are decided in consultations with both government's”.
Hopefully, this visit will help Delhi and Kathmandu to re-engage with each other and forget the mistakes of past.