Lalu scraps ‘politically incorrect’ Nepal tripSeptember 4th, 2008 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Sep 4 (IANS) India’s Railways Minister and former chief minister of flood-plagued Bihar state Lalu Prasad has scrapped his proposed visit to neighbour Nepal after the external affairs ministry advised him against it.Lalu Prasad, who has been blaming his rival, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, for the breach in the barrage on Nepal’s Saptakosi river that subsequently deluged Nepal’s Sunsari district and parts of Bihar, had announced his plan to visit Nepal this week.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief had said he would meet Nepal’s new Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” and President Ram Baran Yadav to discuss the disaster and how to mitigate it.
However, he decided to call off his visit after the ministry’s advice that it would be politically incorrect and send wrong signals.
Diplomatic sources told IANS that both New Delhi and Kathmandu are busy planning Prachanda’s first political visit after assuming office - which would be to New Delhi in the second week of this month.
They do not want anything untoward happening before the visit and souring Indo-Nepal ties.
Lalu Prasad, known for his fondness for quips, could ruffle the sentiments of Nepal, which regards India as responsible for the disaster, as well as the Maoists, who have been warning against the import of “Bihari culture” in Nepal.
Also, the ministry has gently pointed it out that the Kosi dispute stems from the pact signed between the two countries in 1954. India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is therefore the appropriate minister to take up the issue with Nepal.
As the railways minister, Lalu Prasad has no jurisdiction to speak on the dispute.
If he were to visit Nepal, Lalu Prasad would have been the first central minister from India to do so after the formation of the Maoist government last month. People would have had expectations of the visit, which he would not have been able to meet, the diplomats are reported to have told him.