Nepal PM's meeting with R&AW chief sparks criticism



Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has come under fire, including from the ruling Communist Party leaders, for breaching diplomatic norms over his meeting with Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) chief Samant Kumar Goel.

Goel called on Prime Minister Oli at his official residence at Baluwatar on Wednesday evening.

However, the Indian intelligence chief's visit did not go down well with some political leaders of the country, including members of the ruling party Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

The meeting that took place between RAW chief Goel and Prime Minister Oli was against diplomatic norms and it doesn't serve Nepal's national interest, said senior ruling party leader Bhim Rawal.

"As the meeting took place in a non-transparent manner without consulting with the concerned section of the Foreign Ministry, this may also contribute to weakening our state mechanism," he pointed out.

Bishnu Rijal, deputy chief of the foreign affairs department of the NCP, said politicians should not overstep in matters related to diplomacy.

Diplomacy should be handled by diplomats not politicians, he said.

The present confusion over the visit of the R&AW chief is the result of the handling of diplomacy by politicians," he said.

Nepali Congress central leader Gagan Thapa in a tweet said the meeting posed a threat to national security.

"The meeting was not only the breach of our diplomatic norms but it also poses threat to our national security, which needs to be investigated into," Thapa tweeted.

Nepal's three former prime ministers, Prachanda Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda', Madhav Kumar Nepal from the ruling NCP and Sher Bahadur Deuba from Nepali Congress, refuted media reports that they also held meetings with the visiting R&AW chief.

Secretariats of former prime ministers and senior leaders of ruling NCP asked the general public not to be misled by the false, fictitious and illusory news-reports in some local media about their meeting the R&AW chief.

Deuba's secretariat has also made it clear that Deuba did not meet with Goel.

Goel's visit came ahead of the upcoming official trip of Indian Army chief Gen. M M Naravane to Nepal in the first week of November.

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.

India too had published a new map in November 2019 showing the areas as its territories.

After Nepal released the map, India reacted sharply, calling it a "unilateral act" and cautioning Kathmandu that such "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.

In June, Nepal's Parliament approved the new political map of the country featuring areas which India maintains belong to it.

In its reaction, after Nepal's lower house of parliament approved the bill, India termed as untenable the "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims by the neighbouring country.

India said Nepal's action violates an understanding reached between the two countries to resolve the boundary issues through talks.

Prime Minister Oli has been asserting that Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura belong to his country and vowed to "reclaim" them from India.