The visit of Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, to Janakpur to attend a religious event has sparked a controversy after the Nepal government said it has no information about his plan.
Several political parties and leaders have raised objections to Adityanath’s visit because, earlier this summer, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take part in the Bibaha Panchami ceremony. The two leaders were also expected to inaugurate the newly built Janakpur-Jaynagar railway.
However, due to state assembly elections commitments in India, Modi cancelled his visit to Nepal and deputed Adityanath to attend the religious event.
Some Nepali leaders have expressed their concerns that his visit may give a religious undertone to Nepal, which is a secular state. Some said he brazenly bats for the restoration of Hindu state in Nepal and he is in contact with former king Gyanendra Shah.
“If the federal government has invited Adityanath, this is a matter of national shame,” Nepali Congress Vice-president Bimalendra Nidhi told journalists here on Thursday. Adityanath has been lobbying for the restoration of the Hindu state and bringing back monarchy in Nepal, Nidhi said, and therefore his visit to Janakpur has the potential for stoking political instability.
Prominent Madhesi leader Jay Prakash Gupta also opposed Adityanath’s visit, comparing his visit to the Panchayat era when India’s Kanchi head Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati stepped up his activities in Nepal.
“Province 2 is importing religious radicalisation from India. Its reflection is clearly seen in Kathmandu too,” Gupta wrote on Twitter.
A government minister was clueless about Adityanath visiting Nepal. “The federal government has not invited Yogi Adityanath, and I have no knowledge about his visit to Janakpur,” Information and Communications Minister Gokul Prasad Banskota told journalists at his weekly press briefing on Thursday.
However, an Indian Embassy official in Kathmandu confirmed to the Post Adityanath’s participation in Bibha Panchami and it is doing the necessary preparations in Janakpur.
The embassy official who did not wish to be identified, said Adtiyanath would return on the same day he arrives after attending the Bibha Panchami as the guest of Government of Nepal and he will not attend other events.
The provincial government has already started groundwork for his visit and printed banners and pamphlets to announce Adityanath’s arrival.
Local officials said the planned inauguration of the new railway track between Nepal and India has been postponed.
In a media statement, Nepali Congress welcomed the original plan of inauguration by the two prime ministers.
“Some serious questions have been raised about the revised plan of inaugurating Janakpur-Jaynagar railway by an Indian state chief minister. It should be inaugurated by the prime ministers of the both countries as announced earlier.”
Janakpur and Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh have religious ties. During Modi’s visit in May this year, a direct bus service was launched between the two cities.