By Elton Gomes
On his third visit to Nepal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and his Nepalese counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli, jointly inaugurated a direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya, according to media reports.
Speaking to news agency PTI, Modi said, “Janakpur and Ayodhya are being connected. This is a historic moment.” The bus service is part of the Ramayan Circuit, which promotes religious tourism within Nepal and India.
Modi offered prayers at the famous Janaki temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Sita, after which he flagged off the bus service.
I thank the Prime Minister of Nepal, Mr. K.P Sharma Oli for accompanying me to the Janaki Mandir earlier today. pic.twitter.com/LCqSziSNX0
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 11, 2018
Modi is on a two-day visit to Nepal, which came about after he received an invitation from his Nepalese counterpart. Modi thanked Oli for coming all the way from Kathmandu to welcome him, adding that tourism has seen significant growth in Nepal.
“I am glad to be here in Janakpur. I am here to pay respects to King Janak and Mata Janaki. I thank the PM of Nepal Shri Oli for accompanying me during this visit to Janakpur,” Modi said, as reported by PTI.
The move connecting the birthplaces of Hindu gods Ram and Sita is sure to appease the saffron party’s vote bank, as India prepares for the 2019 general elections, the Indian Express reported.
Here’s what happened
Modi’s visit to Nepal comes barely a month after Oli’s trip to India. This is Modi’s third trip to Nepal in a span of four years. The direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya is crucial, as Modi looks to restore pilgrimage routes for Hindus. Manjeev Singh Puri, India’s ambassador to Nepal, said that Modi’s visit will focus on building rail connectivity, inland transport, and agricultural initiatives, DNA reported.
Citing an exclusive interview with the news channel WION, the DNA report mentioned that Modi’s visit will pave the way for developing a railway line between Raxaul in Bihar and Kathmandu, integrating Nepal and India’s rail networks.
Besides focusing on rail connectivity, the Indian Prime Minister will inaugurate the Arun-III hydro-electric project, which is expected to generate 900 megawatts of electricity. The project will also hold importance for India, as surplus power from the project will be exported from Dhalkebar in Nepal, to Muzzaffarpur in Bihar, according to DNA.
Why is this important
Although China’s influence is considered to be increasing in Nepal, analysts opine that the Himalayan nation has a special relationship with India that no other country can replicate. Keeping in mind the economic blockade of 2015, Modi now has a second chance at maintaining better relations with Nepal. A direct bus service will be of significant help to Hindu pilgrims, and it has the capability to facilitate travel between India and Nepal.
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