KATHMANDU: Nepal has shown a rare unity in welcoming the historic visit by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with political elite and a notoriously argumentative media speaking in one voice about what is a new chapter of harmony opening in the Himalayan country’s relations with its bigger neighbour.
Political elite cutting across the spectrum, as well as ordinary Nepali people from different parts of the country have been enthralled by Modi’s charisma –- something unusual for the otherwise divided polity in Kathmandu.
Nepal’s media, which is known to harbour suspicions about “Big Brother” India, too, has praised Modi’s outreach and has backed his efforts to reset ties between the two neighbours.
Unlike earlier, when sections of Nepal’s media conjured up conspiracy theories, this time they seem have come around to the idea that this visit might indeed promise to break the cycle of mistrust that had plagued India-Nepal ties.
Modi’s much-anticipated visit – the first visit by an Indian prime minister in the last 17 years – hogged headlines in all Nepali newspapers, big and small, signalling an emerging consensus on putting the India-Nepal ties on a new footing.
“Modi mantra warms Nepali hearts,” read the headline of popular English daily, The Kathmandu Post. While another daily, The Himalayan Times, wrote, “Modi for better ties with Nepal.”
Republica, another English daily, rhapsodised how Modi mesmerized Nepal with eloquent speech at the Constituent Assembly August 3.
By visiting Nepal within a few months after taking charge, Modi has managed to generate a surge in goodwill for India in Nepal.
During his address, Modi ingeniously touched up all the key issues regarding bilateral relations between the two countries. By clearing the air of past grievances, and evoking a future-oriented outlook in the relationship built around development priorities of Nepal, the visit is being hailed as a grand success.
Modi’s blockbuster victory in India’s parliamentary election in May had already made him a household name in Nepal. His popularity was evident from the spontaneous upsurge of adulation from thousands of ordinary Nepalese people, who lined up streets to welcome him. In the evening, after Modi delivered his stirring and heart-warming speech to the parliament, the mood was upbeat, with Nepalese people braving rains to greet him on the streets of Kathmandu. The Indian prime minister indulged the crowds by stepping out of the car, waving and shaking hands with the crowd.
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