India-Nepal bilateral exchanges were stalled in 2020 due to the border dispute and COVID-19 pandemic, but with time, the relations were brought on track. After a series of high-level interactions between India and Nepal leadership, both the nations are now once again on talking terms.
The tensions between India and Nepal started with the inauguration of 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand in May last year. Nepal argued that the road passed through its territory and then even came out with a new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories.
This did not sit well with India, to which the centre reacted sharply while cautioning Kathmandu of such "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims. The issue got critical - to an extent where India said Nepal's action violated the understanding between the two countries to resolve boundary issues through dialogue. That's all in the past now. Leaders of both countries have now found common ground as bilateral ties stand to be on the resolving path.
Vijay Chauthaiwale and his role in India-Nepal ties
Dr. Vijay Chauthaiwale is the chief of BJP's Foreign Affairs Department and has lately been putting all his efforts into improving the India-Nepal ties. Chauthaiwale, who is also a scientist, called on senior Nepali leaders in order to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.
Chauthaiwale met Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and handed over a message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On his second day in Kathmandu, he met former Prime Minister and Nepal Communist Party—UML chief K.P. Sharma Oli, former Prime Minister and Nepal Communist Party-Maoist Centre President Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda, and Mahantha Thakur, a senior Madhesi leader who had recently registered a new party at the Election Commission.
Chauthaiwale, who is on a four-day unofficial visit to Kathmandu, is the high-ranking Indian leader to arrive here since Deuba took over. The meetings yielded productive results as Nepali leaders said that the discussion figured around strengthening bilateral ties, improving the ties between the new government in Nepal and New Delhi, and possible areas of cooperation between Nepal and India in the future.
"Had a cordial meeting for a bright beginning with @vijai63 Ji today. I look forward to future exchanges between @nepalicongress and @bjp4india to further cement the ties between the two parties," PM Deuba tweeted after meeting with Chauthaiwale.
These meetings in the last few days further the progress of budding India-Nepal ties, especially after the ups and downs witnessed last year. Chauthaiwale has played a crucial role salvaging the relationship between the two countries, which will ensure a fruitful future.
Who is Vijay Chauthaiwale?
Dr Vijay Chauthaiwale has often stayed out of the press and is seen running the show behind important international visits by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Be it Operation NaMorica, the Madison Square template or steering the party during crucial campaigns, Chauthaiwale has held a firm position. He was deputed by PM Modi ahead of 2014 elections to ensure the BJP HQ remained in sync with the Gujarat nerve centre.
Chauthaiwale, who has a doctorate in microbiology, was given the post of party's foreign cell chief after the 2014 campaign, which marked a new career path in his life. He was then seen spending months before PM Modi's NRI event, meeting leaders from different community organisations in order to understand the dynamic of the diaspora. The man always ensured to make events about the people, than the party's own, which engaged the attendees on a personal level.
His recent visit to Kathmandu and meetings with the top leaders might go unnoticed by the masses, but it is a crucial step in the direction of jump-starting the bilateral ties between India and Nepal.