During Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s four-day visit to India in June, it was hard to tell that he was the same staunch communist leader of whom New Delhi has historically been wary.
On his first official foreign visit during this prime ministerial term, “Prachanda”, as Dahal is popularly known, avoided bringing up matters sensitive to India, clearly signifying his changed foreign policy calculus vis-à-vis Delhi.
Additionally, by taking certain steps to “mollify” Delhi, Prachanda wanted to convey his desire to improve ties, say observers of the bilateral relationship. Prachanda wants to reassure Delhi because he now realises the need to better navigate Nepal’s ties with India, they say.
Delhi and Prachanda
In the general election in November, the coalition that ruled Nepal at the time led by Sher Bahadur Deuba’s Nepali Congress party and supported by Prachanda’s Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) failed to win a majority. During negotiations to form a government, the alliance collapsed when Deuba rejected Prachanda’s demand for the prime minister’s position.
Prachanda then joined hands with rival KP Sharma Oli’s Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) to form the government in December. Oli let Prachanda become the prime minister.
However, within two months, the Prachanda-Oli alliance collapsed over a dispute about their presidential…