Deal to end blockade reached: Nepal Deputy PM

By KALLOL BHATTACHERJEE (3 December 2015) –

Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa, who is on a tour of India, told The Hindu on Wednesday that a three-step political agreement to resolve the crippling economic blockade has been reached between the government of Nepal and the protesting Madhesi parties.

“The consensus which is in a preliminary stage needs a lot of care, support and understanding from all the stakeholders,” Mr Thapa told The Hindu in an exclusive interview.

He pointed out that the agreement was prompted by the alarming rise of extremist sentiments in all political sections during the three-month-long blockade and related hardships. “We had to stop the extremist forces from using Nepal’s political platform and that is why this agreement was reached in the interest of the future of Nepal,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Thapa met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to discuss ways and means to keep internal politics of the neighbour on a separate track from India-Nepal relationship. “We have to de-link the internal developments of Nepal from India-Nepal relationship,” he said.

The minister said that under the framework agreement, the issue of territorial demarcation of the Madhesis and their cultural and political rights would be adequately addressed. While the demarcation might take three months to be implemented, other decisions would be implemented immediately. He also conceded that “past errors” by certain groups might have contributed to the present crisis in Nepal.

A key aspect of the solution package will be the constitutional amendments. Mr Thapa pointed out that the Nepal government has proposals for amendments ready and will clear the ambiguities around the process.

His visit to India was prompted by the onset of snowing and heavy rains in Nepal that intensified the suffering of the people in the mountainous region. “Winter has set in and people are suffering because of the blockade and we feel absolutely certain that we can end the blockade by building greater consensus,” he said.

Mr Thapa said emphatically that “proportional and inclusive representation” — a key issue for the Madhesi people — will be ensured to the Madhesis. He began his visit on Tuesday evening by meeting a cross-section of Indian parliamentarians in the Embassy of Nepal.

The meeting was attended by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader Raja, Jagadambika Pal and Vijay Jolly from BJP and Devi Prasad Tripathi of NCP among others. During the meeting, Mr Thapa requested Indian Parliament to take up the issue of humanitarian crisis that has begun to affect a winter-bound Nepal.

Nepal-India ties, Mr Thapa pointed out, would return to normalcy as the blockade is resolved along with political differences at home.

Courtesy : The Hindu, 3 December 2015.

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