Moving to end the five-month standoff with agitating Madhesis which has crippled arterial supply lines to the country, the Nepal government has agreed to amend its new Constitution to address two key demands of the protesters regarding proportional representation and constituency delimitation.
New Delhi welcomed Kathmandu’s decision and urged all political forces in Nepal to demonstrate “maturity and flexibility” to find a satisfactory solution to the crisis which deepened after the promulgation of the new Constitution on September 20.
“Government of India welcomes these developments as positive steps that help create the basis for a resolution of the current impasse in Nepal. As a neighbour and well-wisher, India was deeply concerned at the unrest stemming from internal differences in Nepal on the Constitution. We urge all Nepali political forces to now demonstrate the necessary maturity and flexibility to find a satisfactory solution to
the Constitutional issues through constructive dialogue in an agreed timeframe,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
According to the MEA, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was informed by Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa on Monday that the Nepal cabinet had taken some important decisions to address and resolve demands regarding the Constitution raised by agitating Madhes-based parties.
In Kathmandu, hopes were high that this will signal the resumption of supplies from India which have been on hold for almost 12 weeks now. The agitation in Madhes, bordering India, has so far claimed more than 50 lives.
The government proposes to amend the Constitution to provide for participation in state organs on the basis of proportionate inclusiveness and delineation of electoral constituencies on the basis of population. Demarcation of provinces is also to be addressed through an arrangement in the Constitution on the basis of political consensus.
“Similarly, others demands including citizenship are to be resolved through negotiations and consensus,” Thapa said.
Four leaders of the United Democratic Madhesi Front were informed about Thapa and Swaraj’s conversation by Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae over a breakfast meeting he hosted. Front leaders were not so sure. Upendra Yadav, one of the leaders, said: “We have had many such assurances. We are not going to accept it and call off our agitation.”
But Delhi’s announcement — of welcoming the Nepal cabinet decision — presented a fait accompli. India also indicated it wanted see an end to the Madhesi agitation that intensified after the promulgation of the new Constitution.
“We are confident that a return to normalcy in Nepal would create a more secure and predictable climate for unimpeded commerce between our two countries,” the MEA statement said.
South Block expects the Nepal government to expedite the process of approval of the amendments by its Parliament.
“The Nepalese government published the amendments in Gorkhapatra, their official gazette, last week and there is a 30-day period for public consultations. But it can be shortened. So, one can hope to see some concrete movement in the next one to four weeks,” sources said.