President Pranab Mukherjee has underlined the need to involve every section of the Nepalese society as “equal stakeholders” in the process of building democracy, in an apparent reference to the political upheaval over the new Constitution that had strained Indo-Nepal ties.
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As a close neighbour, India is interested in peace, stability and progress of Nepal, said Mukherjee, who is the first Indian President to visit Nepal in 18 years.
“We have learnt from our own experience that sustainable socio-economic development can only be achieved in an environment of peace, stability and a participatory democracy, and where every section of the society is an equal stakeholder in political processes and the outcomes.
“These lessons could be of benefit to Nepal as it embarks on its own path of building democracy,” he told Nepalese dailies Kantipur and The Kathmandu Post in an interview.
Like any relationship of “this depth and intensity, there are times when we may have differing perceptions on certain aspects,” he said on questions about India’s position on the Madhesi protests that led to a blockade of border checkpoints and caused shortage of essential commodities in the landlocked country, effectively nosediving the bilateral ties briefly.
Madhesis, the inhabitants of southern plains who share close ties with Indians, had launched months-long agitation demanding more political representation and had alleged the Constitution Nepal adopted in September last year was discriminatory to their interest.
Mukherjee said because of the shared border, developments within Nepal “can impact on the flows across it.”
“But we do manage any such differences with sensitivity, goodwill and utmost understanding of each other’s vital interests. This has been the case throughout the history of India-Nepal relations,” he said.
“(And) let us not forget that ours is a unique partnership, which is driven by extensive contacts between our two peoples… As close friends, we, therefore, welcome all efforts that lead to enduring peace and stability in Nepal,” he said.
Mukherjee said India’s engagement with Nepal will always be guided by the long-term interests of both the countries.
“Going forward, I firmly believe that India and Nepal need to do more to work together for our common goal of development, peace, economic prosperity and well being of our two peoples,” he said.