By Ram Khatry, Sydney
17 April 2017
A seemingly low-key reception accorded to Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari as she arrived in New Delhi Monday afternoon appears to have caused much angst among Nepali people, both at home and abroad.
Many in Kathmandu have expressed that their self-respect has been compromised given the submissive way their own government had welcomed Indian president Pranab Mukherjee when he visited Nepal in November 2015 and how President Bhandari was received in New Delhi today.
According to southasia.com.au correspondent Krandan Chapagain, people on the streets are comparing the mega-fuss Nepali government had created when President Mukherjee visited the country last year with Ms Bhandari’s reception at the airport on April 17. Public holidays were declared on the days of his arrival and departure just as it used to be done during monarchy. Ironically, the system has now been reinstated by none other than a government led by Maoists who had fought a bloody war to get rid of the feudal system. People in Kathmandu are also talking about the way President Bhandari, Prime Minister Prachanda as well as the vice president jammed at the Tribhuvan International Airport to receive the visiting Indian head of state.
Facebook rants also appear to blame India for failing to respect “protocol” by sending a junior government minister to Indira Gandhi International Airport to receive President Bhandari.
However, according to available information on the presidential tour, President Bhandari will be accorded a formal welcome at the majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The Prachanda-led Government of Nepal has been little melodramatic by announcing “public holiday” on Monday to mark the beginning of Ms Bhandari’s state visit to the southern neighbour. In what is clearly a matter of serious embarrassment, the Prachanda government has now called off the public holiday on the day of her return to Kathmandu – following much public uproar.
The second president of landlocked South Asian nation is on a five-day state visit to India, on invitation of her Indian counterpart President Pranab Mukherjee.
“Neighbourhood first. H.E. Ms Bidhya Devi Bhandari, President of Nepal arrives in New Delhi on State Visit to India,” said India’s Ministry of External Affairs in a Facebook post as her plane touched down at the Indian capital.