Narendra Modi in Nepal: #ModiNotWelcomed, tweet Nepalis, top developments

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Nepal visit: PM Narendra Modi offering prayers at the Janaki temple in Janakpur. Photo: @MEAIndia
Nepal is at the top of India's Neighbourhood First policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today as he announced a grant of Rs 1 billion to develop the sacred city of Janakpur and its surrounding areas.

"Whenever there has been a problem, India and Nepal have stood together. We have been there for each other in the most difficult of times," Modi said at a civic reception by the Janakpur Sub-Metropolitan City at Barhabigha ground. Modi, who is on his third visit to the Himalayan nation since assuming the office in 2014, assured Nepal that it is at the top of India's Neighbourhood First policy. He said the two neighbours can work on 5Ts - Tradition, Trade, Tourism, Technology and Transport - to achieve progress and prosperity.

Modi, who earlier offered special prayers at the famed 20th century Janaki temple, invoked mythological King Janak of Mithila and King Dashratha of Ayodhya and said they not only united Janakpur and Ayodhya but also united India and Nepal. He also announced that India will grant Rs one billion to Nepal to develop Janakpur and its surrounding areas.

Janakpur is known as the birth place of Sita, the wife of Lord Rama. Modi, who initially spoke in Maithili, said he was happy to link Janakpur with Ramayan Circuit. Prime Minister Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli jointly inaugurated a direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya - the two sacred cities for Hindus.

According to officials, certain agreements were expected to be signed between the two leaders. Security has been tightened in the country and as many as 11,000 security personnel from both countries have been deployed for the visit.  

Here are the top 10 developments around Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day Nepal visit:

1) Netizens of Nepal slam Modi: Hashtags like #BlockadeWasCrimeMrModi and #ModiNotWelcomed-InNepal were trending as the Indian leader kicked off his two-day Nepal visit on Friday. Some users reminded Modi of the border blockade enforced by India when Nepal was still reeling from the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake. Others demanded that Modi apologize for the 135-day blockade from September 2015 to February 2016 that crippled Nepal's economy and led to tensions between the two countries.

"Sorry, Mr Modi we haven't forgotten blockade. We are not welcoming you but it doesn't mean that we are anti-Indian. We are with Indian people but we condemn the Indian government act of blockade in Nepal," wrote user Shailesh M. Pokharel on Twitter.

Another, Binod Khanal, posted: "Mr Modi Nepali politician will welcome you in Nepal but, Neplease people never!!"

Border Blockade Was a Serious Crime!!#BlockadeWasCrimeMrModi #ModiNotWelcomeInNepal

— पर्पल हेज (@haze_purple11) May 9, 2018

Many Nepalis still simmering over Indian blockade 2 years ago, halting supplies of fuel and medicine. So you must apologize for the blockade.#BlockadeWasCrimeMrModi #ModiNotWelcomeinNepal

— बिक्रमश्री ツ (@razbikram) May 10, 2018

You will not free from your sinful activities during the period of blockade. Lets raise black flag for #Modi. #BlockadeWasCrimeMrModi #ModiNotWelcomeInNepal #BackOffIndia #Nepal

— Binod Khanal (@binchand) May 4, 2018

2) Modi addresses gathering at Rangabhoomi ground, says India's faith 'incomplete without Nepal': Prime Minister Modi was felicitated at a civic reception at the Bahrabigaha's Rangabhoomi ground, where he addressed the people gathered to welcome him. At the reception, Modi said it was his "long due wish to visit the land of Goddess Sita and offer his prayers".

"Today, I am extremely happy and grateful that I got this opportunity," said Modi. Further, the Prime Minister said that the Indo-Nepal relationship "dates back to Treta Yug".  

Referring to the mythological epic Ramayana, Modi said, "King Janak and King Dasharath not only united Janakpur and Ayodhya but also India and Nepal."

"People of India and Nepal are bound by mutual respect and admiration for each other. Nepal has been a tourism spot for decades for spiritualism. India's faith is incomplete without Nepal," added Modi.

"History is proof that whenever there has been a problem, India and Nepal have stood together. We have been there for each other in the most difficult of times," said Modi, adding: "When I talk about 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas', I not only talk about India but also about neighbouring countries. I always want the development of our neighbours. Today, I'm happy that Nepal is developing rapidly."

Leaders of the parties representing the district had also been invited to attend the programme. The provincial government has announced a public holiday to coincide with Modi’s visit. According to visuals shown by news agencies, people had started assembling at the ground from early Friday morning.

#WATCH Live from Nepal: PM Modi at civic reception in Janakpur

— ANI (@ANI) May 11, 2018

3) Modi, Oli inaugurate Ramayan Circuit Bus Route: Nepalese Prime Minister Oli and Modi on Friday jointly inaugurated the Ramayan Circuit Bus Route connecting Janakpur (believed to be the birthplace of Goddess Sita) with Ayodhya (believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram). The Ramayan Circuit is among the 13 tourist circuits under the "Swadesh Darshan Scheme" of India. After the launch, Modi and Oli flagged off the Indo-Nepal bus service.

WATCH LIVE from Nepal: PM Modi at the launch of Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service

— ANI (@ANI) May 11, 2018

At the launch, Modi said that India and Nepal would work towards building a 'Ramayan' circuit between both the countries. "This will act as a foundation for strong people-to-people contacts between the two nations," he added. 

India and Nepal will work towards building 'Ramayan' circuit between both the countries. This will act as foundation for strong people to people contact between the two nations :PM Modi at the launch of bus service between Janakpur-Ayodhya, in Janakpur #Nepal

— ANI (@ANI) May 11, 2018

4) Modi offers prayers at Ram Janaki Mandir in Nepal; Oli receives him at temple: Prime Minister Modi on Friday arrived at the Ram Janaki Mandir in Nepal's Janakpur, where he was received by Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli. Modi offered special prayers at the temple, making him the first Indian Prime Minister to do so with "khodasopachar" rituals.

WATCH: PM Narendra Modi offers prayers at Janki Temple in #Nepal's Janakpur

— ANI (@ANI) May 11, 2018

Modi also briefly played a musical instrument during his visit to Janaki temple.

#WATCH Prime Minister Narendra Modi played musical instrument during his visit to Janki temple in Nepal's Janakpur

— ANI (@ANI) May 11, 2018

Addressing a civic reception at the Ram Janaki Temple, Prime Minister Modi said: "I am glad to be here in Janakpur. I am here to pay my respects to King Janak and Mata Janaki. I thank the Prime Minister of Nepal Oli ji, my 'brother' for accompanying me during this visit to Janakpur," the Prime Minister added. Modi referred to Oli as "bhai sahab" (My brother). 

Before Modi, former Indian Presidents Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, Giani Zail Singh, and Pranab Mukherjee have in the past performed these special prayers employing the "khodasopachar rituals", said Ram Tapeshwar Das Vaishnav, the priest at the Janaki Temple. 

Earlier in the day, Modi arrived at Janakpur airport as he started his two-day visit to Nepal. Nepalese Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel and Province 2 Chief Minister Lalbabu Raut received Modi at the airport. 

5) Modi's Nepal visit aimed at bringing back normalcy in India-Nepal ties: On the eve of his two-day visit to Nepal, Prime Minister Modi said India would remain a steadfast partner of the Himalayan nation in its quest for growth and development. Modi exuded confidence that his visit would further cement the people-centric partnership with Nepal on the basis of mutual benefit, goodwill, and understanding. 

Modi's visit to Nepal is seen as an attempt by both the countries to bring back normalcy in ties after a spell of uneasiness as it comes little over a month after his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli came to India.  

Describing his two-day trip to Nepal as a reflection of his government's commitment to the "neighbourhood first" policy, Modi said the Himalayan nation has entered a new era and India would continue to support it. 

Nepalese Prime Minister Oli's April visit was seen as an attempt to repair Nepal's ties with New Delhi. In 2016, the Nepalese leader had publicly accused India of interfering in his country's internal matters and trying to topple his government.

"Prime Minister Oli and I will have the opportunity to take forward our recent wide-ranging discussions in New Delhi on issues of mutual interest, and to advance our cooperative partnership across diverse sectors," Modi said.

He said his visit "reflects the high priority, India, and personally I, attach to our age-old, close and friendly ties with Nepal". 

"These high-level and regular interactions reflect my government's commitment to the 'neighbourhood first' policy, in consonance with the motto of sabka saath, sabka vikas'," he said. 

Modi said the two countries have completed several bilateral connectivity and development projects in the last few years and initiated transformational initiatives for the benefit of their people.

I will be visiting Nepal on 11th and 12th May at the invitation of PM Mr. KP Sharma Oli. This visit reflects the high priority India attaches to friendly relations with Nepal. I will be holding extensive talks with PM Oli on ways to further deepen bilateral cooperation.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 10, 2018

As Nepal enters a new era of consolidating the gains of a democracy and achieving economic growth, India remains a steadfast partner of the Nepal Government to implement their vision of ‘Samriddha Nepal, Sukhi Nepali.'

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 10, 2018

6) Modi to lay foundation stone of $1.5-billion hydroelectricity project in Nepal today: Prime Minister Modi will also lay the foundation stone for the Arun-III hydroelectricity project in the Sankhuwasabha district of eastern Nepal, undertaken by India's Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam, through video conferencing. The 900-Mw project is expected to be completed in five years. India will spend $1.5 billion on it.   

7) Modi-Oli joint address today: Modi and Oli on Friday will jointly address the media. The Nepalese leader will later host a dinner for his Indian counterpart.   

8) Modi to visit Muktinath temple tomorrow: On Saturday, Modi will visit the Muktinath temple at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass in Mustang district to pay obeisance and also announce a "surprise gift" for its development and reconstruction. The Annapurna trekking route in Manang will be closed for three days to trekkers and tourists due to security reasons.  

9) Modi to be presented with 'artistic key' by Kathmandu mayor tomorrow: The Kathmandu Metropolitan City will hold a civic reception for Modi with Mayor Bidhya Sundar Sakya presenting an "artistic key" to the Prime Minister.

10) Modi to visit Pashupatinath temple tomorrow: Modi will also pray at Kathmandu's Pashupatinath temple on Saturday. Pradeep Dhakal, a member of the Pashupatinath Temple trust, told news agencies: "Special prayers will be conducted. We are ready to welcome him (Modi)." 

#Nepal: Visuals from Kathmandu's Pashupatinath Temple, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit here tomorrow. Member of the Temple Trust, Pradeep Dhakal says, 'Special prayers will be conducted. We are ready to welcome him.'

— ANI (@ANI) May 11, 2018

With agency inputs

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel