NEW DELHI--The last minute postponement of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Nepal has left New Delhi perplexed. Wen's scheduled visit prompted Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee' to make a trip to Nepal ahead of the Chinese premier. Mukherjee hastily signed the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement with Nepal, which was put on the back burner during PM Bhattarai's India visit. Since the declaration of the Chinese premier's visit, several high profile Indian officials and experts have visited Nepal to gauge the influence that the Chinese visit could have. This shows how much Delhi is alarmed about Beijing's growing presence in Nepal. Indian analysts say it is a failure of Delhi's diplomacy in Nepal. Former Indian ambassador to Nepal KV Rajan says, "It's not the Chinese but their intentions that is of concern."
Delhi has been anxious about its loosening grip on Nepal after the CA election. The South Block sees the Maoists have politicised former Indian ambassador Rakesh Sood's unpopularity to create bad blood with India. The distance between Nepal and India widened under the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government and although relations have normalised after Bhattarai's visit, the Indians are still deeply suspicious. Analysts say India has realised that Nepal's peace process and constitution drafting cannot see closure without the Maoists. This realisation prompted the Indians to support the Bhattarai government so that it could keep the Maoists 'engaged' , while maintaining its influence. The anticipated visit of the Indian PM to Nepal is a reiteration of New Delhi's engagement policy in Nepal.