India’s last resort to bring obstacles on constitution turns futile as leaders show rare unity

Nepal Foreign Affairs (Kathmandu, September 19): India’s last resort to bring obstacles in bringing Nepal’s constitution turned futile though Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent Foreign Secretary S Jaishanker as a special envoy who visited Nepal on Friday and Saturday.

During his marathon meetings with senior leaders of major political parties including Prime Minister Sushil Koirala since he landed in Kathmandu on Friday morning, the special envoy exerted pressure to postpone the constitution promulgation date and bring the disgruntled Madheshi parties on board the constitution making process. Despite tremendous pressure from the special envoy the major parties remained are determined to bring the new constitution for the country’s long-term interest since the Constituent Assembly endorsed the constitution bill with an overwhelming majority.

“Over 92 percent participation in the CA is a rare show of unity among political parties for country’s bright future. India and the international community must understand this fact,” leaders told the Indian envoy. The leaders also said that Madheshi parties can be brought to the mainstream political by amending the constitution in future and meet their genuine demands.

The special envoy also warned leaders that the two countries’ bilateral ties might face a serious standoff in near future if the major parties introduced new statute without involving Madheshi parties in the process. However, Chairman of the CPN (UML) KP Sharma Oli told the envoy that the new constitution promulgation can’t be stopped right now.

While citing the Indian experience of new constitution promulgation Chairman Oli told the envoy that constitution brought by the Indian establishment was not accepted by Tamil parties of in the southern plains but later on the Tamil parties were brought to the mainstream.

“If the Madhesh unrest keeps continuing that doesn’t serve the interest of Nepal and India. Bring Madheshi parties on board the constitution promulgation,” the Indian envoy told the leaders.

The special envoy who failed to halt the constitution promulgation in Nepal spoke to media at the International Airport before flying back to home on Saturday morning expressed hope that political leaders will display the flexibility and maturity to ensure a durable and resilient Constitution.

Indian Foreign Secretary, who visited Kathmandu on Friday and Saturday as a special envoy of the Indian Prime Minister, claimed that India is strongly supportive in the constitution making process of Nepal.

The Indian government’s statement has come a day before President Ram Baran Yadav issues a long-awaited new Constitution through the Constituent Assembly.

The special envoy said that India wants the constitution promulgation should be an occasion for joy and satisfaction, not agitation and violence.

“We hope that Nepal’s political leaders will display the necessary flexibility and maturity at this crucial time to ensure a durable and resilient Constitution that has broad-based acceptance,” the special envoy said.

During a meeting with Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, the Indian envoy stressed on bringing the Madheshi parties’ in the constitution promulgation process through dialogue and end the ongoing agitation in the Terai region of Nepal bordering with India, Prime Minister Koiralal’s Foreign Relations Advisor Dinesh Bhattarai told. “He was of the view that the unrest in Terai has equally impacted in India,” Bhattarai said.

The Indian envoy also held meeting with UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

“Your trip to Nepal is ‘ill-timed. Either you should have come here before 10 days or after 15 days of the new constitution promulgation. Now it doesn’t take any meaning if you want to say something to us,” Dahal told the envoy on the occasion. The special envoy also held separate clandestine meeting with disgruntled parties at the Indian embassy in Kathmandu. Madheshi parties asked full support at the ongoing agitation programs in Terai so as to the major parties to pay heed to their agitation. “India’s economic as well as moral both type of support is crucial for us at this critical juncture,” the leaders told the Indian envoy.

The envoy’s advice might fuel the ongoing violent protests of Madheshi parties over the new constitution, political observers said. “Modi must revisit his Nepal policy and realize why the anti-Indian sentiment is growing. People and political party leaders can’t tolerate India’s high-handedness and political intervention at all. India must wholeheartedly welcome this constitution endorsed by two-thirds majority of the sovereign CA which has ensured Nepal as a secular federal democratic republic,” a political leader said. He argued that India’s meddling in Nepal’s internal affairs never helps promote the people-to-people contacts rather creates diplomatic standoff between the two countries.

The Indian envoy was accompanied by Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae and Joint Secretary (North) Abhaya Thakur at the Indian External Affairs Ministry during the trip. The 601-member CA had endorsed the much-delayed statute with over 92 percent lawmakers’ signature on Friday. The home-driven constitution-making process is going to complete on September 20, 2015.

This is the first full-fledged constitution of Nepal after it became republic in 2008 with overthrow of 240-year monarchy. This is also an end of the peace process that started in 2007 following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord after the then rebel Maoists joined the mainstream. The ten-year-long civil war between the Maoists and the state ended with the signing of the CPA in 2007.


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