New Delhi: India on Monday welcomed the steps taken by the Nepalese government to resolve the four-month-old political impasse following the adoption of a new constitution by the Himalayan nation in September.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was informed by Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa on Monday that the Nepalese cabinet has taken some important decisions to address and resolve demands regarding the constitution raised by agitating Madhes-based parties, the ministry said in a statement.
“These decisions include amendments to the Constitution on participation in the state organs on the basis of proportionate inclusiveness and delineation of electoral constituencies on the basis of population,” it said.
“The demarcation of provinces is also to be addressed through an appropriate arrangement in the constitution on the basis of political consensus. Similarly, other demands, including citizenship, are to be resolved through negotiations and consensus.”
According to the statement, India welcomed 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 time frame,” it stated.
“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.”
At least 55 people have lost their lives in the four months of violent protests after the adoption of the new constitution with agitating Madhesi political parties and ethnic groups of the Nepal Terai demanding amendments in the statute that they deem discriminatory and ignoring their rights.
A new bill introduced in the Nepalese parliament on December 15, that aims to amend the constitution, ensures constitutional guarantee of inclusive proportional representation of various ethnic minorities in various state entities apart from the Nepal Army and redrawing the electoral constituencies based on population.
However, the Madhesi parties opposed the move, saying they had not been consulted before tabling the bill.
Expressing their disagreement with the constitution amendment proposal, the disgruntled regional parties have returned to their constituencies to intensify protests.
Although they have not formally ended dialogue with the government, relations between the two sides have become bitter once again.
On Sunday evening, the Nepal government had decided to form a high-level political mechanism to redraw the borders of federal provinces outlined by the newly adopted constitution as part of its bid to end the prolonged Madhes crisis.
An emergency meeting of the Cabinet decided to form the mechanism with a mandate to submit reports with acceptable recommendations for all sides within three months of its formation.
Before communicating the decision to the Indian side, Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa communicated the cabinet decision to the agitating Madhes-based parties on Monday at his office, assuring the Nepal government is fully committed to its decision.
Immediately after the Indian external affairs ministry’ statement welcoming the Nepal cabinet’s decision, Thapa tweeted: “I have taken India’s statement on Nepal today as encouraging and positive towards ending the current crisis.”
The southern plains comprise over 50 percent of the population of Nepal and if this bill is passed, the plains will have majority representation in parliament after the next general election.
Due to the ongoing agitation, thousands of Nepal-bound cargo vehicles have not been able to enter Nepal from India since the last four months. As a result, Nepal is facing serious shortage of essential supplies like food, medicines, fuel and other items.