Relations with India on Right Track, Again: Nepal

Visitors' Book By Prateek Joshi

The deputy prime minister said that the Nepalese government dealt with these concerns swiftly, acknowledging the Opposition’s grievances.

Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa said that India-Nepal are now again on the right track, despite the turbulent relationship in recent months.

A visible proof of deepening ties was that there were 13 meetings lined up between India and Nepal during June-July duration only, the deputy prime minister said while delivering a talk, Current Developments in Nepal and India-Nepal Relations, at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi on June 10. The talk was moderated by Rakesh Sood, former Ambassador to Nepal and now a Distinguished Fellow with ORF.

The deputy prime minister described the current level of India-Nepal relations as ‘excellent’.

Discussing the political developments, the deputy prime minister noted that Nepal had been through trying times with the Maoist insurgency, the 2015 earthquake and Madhesi protests. However, the earthquake was a blessing in disguise as amidst the devastation and loss of lives, it united political parties across the spectrum to work together. Keeping aside their political and ideological differences, parties were able to work together and draft a new Constitution. With a common agenda for economic development and prosperity, Nepal was united in its dream to rebuild the country.

Unfortunately before Nepal could fully recover, the nation descended into political chaos after its Constitution was promulgated. Leaders of Madhesi political parties took to streets, protesting against the Constitution. They accused the Nepalese leadership of discriminating against the Madhesis with regards to citizenship provisions and provincial demarcations. A clear ethnic divide was witnessed throughout Nepal with the Madhesis and Tharus pitched against the Pahari community, whose members dominate the Nepalese leadership.

The deputy prime minister said that the Nepalese government dealt with these concerns swiftly, acknowledging the Opposition’s grievances. Within four months of the Constitution’s release, the first amendment came out. However another demand, regarding demarcation of the provinces, remains a contentious issue. The government has assured the protestors by announcing the formation of a political committee with a mandate to come out with a consensus among the protesting political groups.

The establishment of a permanent political system remains a persistent challenge in Nepal. Therefore the present Constitution, the first to be prepared by people’s representatives, remains one of the country’s greatest achievements. After India, Nepal was the second country to draft a Constitution through a constituent assembly in South Asia, the deputy prime minister pointed out.

He said the year 2015 witnessed a setback in India-Nepal relations, given complexities arising from the Madhesi agitation. The deputy prime minister took the opportunity to clarify Nepal’s stand on its post-blockade engagement with India and China. Regarding the role of India, he described India as a valued partner in Nepal’s democratic transition. He praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the growing ties under his leadership. Terming China as a global economic power, he stated that it was imperative for Nepal to take advantage of China’s economic progress.

The deputy prime minister said Nepal also strives for a regional stability, wherein it envisions a constructive engagement with India and China at the same time. Simultaneously, Nepal looks for more international support in this sensitive phase it is going through. Concluding his speech, His Excellency described Nepal’s relationship with India as a unique one, which could not be compared to any other nation.

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