From the top leadership of the three major political parties to their youth wings, there are protests against India for its ‘undeclared’ blockade. India, meanwhile, says it merely took ‘note of a Constitution’ having been promulgated in Nepal and asked the Nepali actors not to ignore the Madhes leaders concerns for more autonomy and larger share of seats in Parliament.
Last week, Madhesi activists and leaders have sat on dharna in ‘no-man’s land’ between the two countries, blocking check-posts. The government of India has said that in view of this blockade and security reasons, it would not be possible to send Indian transporters to Nepal.
However, Nepali politicians allege that the ‘blockade’ couldn’t have been possible without the Indian government’s tacit approval. They link it to India’s cold response over the Constitution. Since then, protests have been widespread and stridently anti-India with some even burning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effigy and Indian flag. And there are no signs of the anti-India protests abating soon.
India’s Ambassador Ranjit Rae has said that India had nothing to do with the blockade , ‘nor is it unhappy with the new constitution ‘ and that it harboured only good will for Nepal. However, this has reassured sections in Nepal. In the words of Maoist chief and former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, India ‘should stop micro-managing Nepal affairs’.
Nepalese leaders say the framing of a new Constitution has to be and should remain within ‘Nepal’s sovereign domain’. They have implied that the Indian authorities verbally went to the extent of discussing ‘which part of Nepal should be in which provinces’.
Interestingly, the current protesters are those who have benefited the most politically by ‘India’s mediation’ in the past that brought them together against the monarchy – India had openly backed them and their agenda of radical change in Nepal after 2006.
The current level of anti-India sentiment has pushed into the background India’s lead role in rescue and relief and promise of reconstruction in the aftermath of April’s earthquake.
Indo-Nepalese relations have a history of highs and lows with India offering patronage and Nepal resenting it – a sort of ‘big brother and small neighbor syndrome’. At the same time, the neighbours are bound intimately by civilization, culture, religion, and inter-dependence dictated by geography.