Kathmandu, Sep 29: Nepal’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Gaurav Sumsher Rana left for India Sunday on a seven-day visit, his second official visit to the southern neighbour, at a time when the Himalayan nation is gearing up for polls in November.
His visit to New Delhi is being keenly followed in Kathmandu as the Nepal government has decided to deploy 61,000 Nepal Army personnel during the constituent assembly elections scheduled for Nov 19.
The government’s decision to deploy the army on poll duty has sparked off a serious debate in the country.
After a breakaway faction of the Maoists, led by hardliner Mohan Baidhya, publicly announced that it would boycott the elections and disturb the poll process as it can, the government was compelled to bring the army out from the barracks.
The Baidhya-led Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), which has some strength to disturb the polls, dubbed the decision to deploy the army during the polls as a mistake and said it would prove counter-productive.
“It is a ploy to impose army rule, if the army is mobilised for the polls,” Dev Gurung, CPN-M secretary, said Sunday.
Moreover, Rana’s India visit is also important as the Nepal Army is faced with a dire shortage of military stores, both lethal and non-lethal.
The issue of resumption of Indian military supplies to Nepal, halted in 2005 after deposed King Gynendra Shah assumed executive powers, will come up for discussion during meetings with the Indian military establishment.
Both sides recently agreed to resume the halted military supplies but the Nepal Army is yet receive any consignment.
According to a bilateral treaty, Nepal has to buy military supplies from India and if it is not available in the Indian market, it has to coordinate with India to purchase these.
“Although his visit is not focused on resumption of the military weapon supplies, it is certainly an issue to be tabled there,” said Nepal Army spokesperson Jagdish Pokhrel.
A statement issued by the Nepal Army said that Rana would meet his Indian counterpart Gen. Bikram Singh, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony, and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh.
He will also attend the closing session of a joint military exercise in Pithoragarh, Deharadun.