The Nepal establishment has “got in touch” with Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae in an effort to find a solution to the crisis over the country’s newly promulgated Constitution and the protests in Madhes.
Confirming that Nepal’s leaders have shown an inclination to find an early resolution to the crisis which they can ill-afford as the country tries to recover from the devastation of the April earthquake, a government source told The Indian Express that top leaders of three major parties — the Nepali Congress headed by Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML chairman K P Sharma Oli and UCPN-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda — have been holding meetings on the fallout of the new Constitution.
In New Delhi, Oli and Prachanda are considered closer to China than India. There is also a perception that Beijing more concerned with the political and security aspects of the mountain areas of Nepal where the Tibetan diaspora live, views with suspicion the socio-cultural and economic ties of Madhes with India.
“They (Nepal’s leaders) took an extremely narrow view to go ahead and pass the Constitution. India is not at all against Nepal’s Constitution. We welcome it. But we said, please accommodate your own countrymen for a peaceful end of the long-drawn battle for a finely-shaped Constitution,” the source said.
Madhesis account for 31 per cent of Nepal’s population and India “could not help but watch with anguish” when three “Pahadi” parties issued whips to clear the Constitution. The special session of the Constituent Assembly, the Indian government source said, did not allow proper debates before promulgation of the Constitution.
In the Indian assessment, Madhesis versus Pahadis is the main reason for the current mess in Nepal. Since summer, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval have had joint meetings over Nepal. Jaishankar went to Nepal “not as FS but as the special envoy of PM”, the source said, underlining that decision-making is “highly integrated” in this government.
“In the Modi government, there are no watertight compartments as under the UPA. Here, everything is tightly supervised, coordinated under constant watch before a policy line is taken by the government. The final presentation is the result of team work. The Modi government doesn’t have two views on anything,” the source said. “Our approach was to see that all Nepali parties negotiate among themselves. If you put your house on fire, I as your neighbour would be worried. How can I be a silent spectator when the border between India and Nepal is porous? Have no doubts that there will be a spillover effect on us. Already, transportation of goods from India faces disturbance on the border,” the source said.