September 11, 2016 4:42:35 pm
Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda has said he will not sign any controversial deal with India during his visit this week but would lay a “strong foundation” for mutual trust after bilateral ties went through “some bitter experience” over Madhesi stir during his predecessor’s tenure. The Maoist chief, who became Nepal’s premier for the second time on August 4 taking the reign of the country from the pro-China K P Oli, said he was taking the four-day visit starting from September 15 as a “challenging opportunity.”
“I am confident that the visit (to India) would not only normalise the relations that went through some bitter experience in the recent past, but also build a strong foundation for mutual trust,” he told the International Relations and Labour Committee of the Parliament on Saturday. Later at an interaction on Indo-Nepal ties organised by Nepal Institute of International Relations, Prachanda said he would like to urge all to let him “take risk as a leader”.
“A leader should have the privilege to take risk,” the 61-year-old new prime minister said, adding that he would not sign any controversial deal with India during the visit.
“I urge all the people in the country not to dictate me and let me take risk in favour of our national interest.” Soon after he took over, Prachanda sent special envoys to India and China in a bid to improve ties with both countries.
He accused Oli government of creating a rift between people from the hills and the plains. “The country cannot be prosperous without strengthening national unity,” he said. Prachanda has said disagreements with the Madhesi people – inhabitants of the southern plains who share strong cultural and family bonds with Indians – over the federal boundaries in the new Constitution would be sorted out by mid-October.
Nepal’s ties with India had strained after a months-long border blockade last year by the ethnic minority protesters over the new Constitution, which they claim is discriminatory to their interest. The Oli government accused India of imposing an “unofficial blockade” on the landlocked nation to support the Madhesi demand of more political representation.
Prachanda, whose first stint as Nepal’s premier from 2008 to 2009 came to an end due to disagreement with the military over his attempt to sack the army chief, has three major tasks cut out for him: concluding the peace process, implementing the new Constitution and improving relations with India, according to leading Nepalese daily The Kathmandu Post.
He has long been floating the idea of tripartite cooperation between China-Nepal-India and he believes it could fulfil Nepali people’s aspirations of change and prosperity. Another major area of focus for his government would be ensure reconstruction of Nepal following the devastating earthquake in April last year. Earthquake victims have complained that the Rs 200,000 aid announced by the previous government was insufficient to reconstruct their homes.