New Delhi: Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) Chief Samant Kumar Goel has rushed to Nepal as the ongoing crisis in the ruling Nepal Communist Party deepened, ThePrint has learnt.
Goel, who is in Kathmandu only “for a few hours”, will be meeting Prime Minister K.P. Oli and his party rival, Executive Chairman Pushpa Kumar Dahal Prachanda, to assess the tensions in the party and its likely outcomes, top sources told ThePrint.
Two factions of the Nepal Communist Party, one led by Oli and the other by Prachanda, have been squabbling over a power-sharing deal, roiling the ruling party. The Prachanda faction has demanded Oli’s resignation as the party’s chairman. Oli has alleged his detractors were working against him with India’s help.
Goel’s visit comes at a time of heightened tensions between India and Nepal, following the Oli government issuing a new political map in May 2020, which claim the Kalapani region, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh — together consisting about 335 sq km — as their own territory.
India rejected the map and said it will not accept such “artificial enlargement” of territory, thereby stating that the talks on the unsettled boundary issue will take place between foreign secretaries on both sides once the pandemic subsides.
A packed few hours of diplomacy
Goel, who had last visited Kathmandu in July 2019 a month after taking charge as R&AW chief, is expected to discuss the map issue as Nepal has been keen on talks, sources said. The foreign secretary-level talks were supposed to take place last year.
Apart from the domestic political turmoil, the sources added, India is also “closely watching” the recent tensions that have begun to simmer between Kathmandu and Beijing, which is also believed to be on Goel’s agenda.
Earlier this month, the opposition Nepali Congress Party (NCP) claimed that China encroached Nepali land in Humla district.
India has been having its own border tensions with China at the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since May, which have become as serious as the situation during 1962 India-China War.
Goel’s visit will be also followed by Army chief General M.M. Naravane’s trip to the Himalayan nation next month where he will be conferred the honorary rank of General of the Nepali Army in an investiture ceremony, in accordance with an age-old tradition between the two countries.