Make Constitution more inclusive, India to tell Nepal PM


New Delhi, Feb 18: India will prod Nepal to complete the “unfinished task” of making the new Nepalese Constitution more inclusive when its Prime Minister K P Oli arrives here on Friday on his maiden visit to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

Adopting a “test and verify” approach with the new leadership in Nepal, India is “relatively satisfied” with the steps taken by the government there to assuage the concerns of the Indian-origin Madhesi community by including two key amendments to the Constitution.

It now wants the political establishment in the Himalayan nation to show “wisdom and maturity” to find a solution to pending issues through dialogue.

Terming the inclusion of two amendments –participation in the state organs on proportional basis and delineation of electoral constituencies –in the Constitution as “positive developments”, the sources, however, said, “There are unfinished tasks which need to be completed and some more distance to be covered” for an inclusive Constitution.

The two amendments were incorporated after months of agitation by Indian-origin Madhesis of the Terai region demanding greater protection of their rights under the new Constitution. The Madhesis had enforced a nearly five-month blockade of the Indo-Nepal border, crippling essential supplies, before calling it off earlier this month.

While Kathmandu accused India of imposing a “blockade” in a bid to pressurise it into accepting the demands of Madhesis, the government here maintained it was “natural to externalise the internal problems.”

Denying that India was “prescriptive” while dealing with the Himalayan nation, official sources said there were some “concerns” which needed to be addressed and asserted that a “stable and peaceful” Nepal was what New Delhi wanted.

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There is also a feeling here that Nepal’s “China card” and its “perceived impact” on Indo-Nepal ties has not worked as was evident from the fact that Oli was making his first official visit after assuming charge to India. Oli will be here on a State visit for six days during which he will hold extensive talks with Modi on a host of key bilateral and regional issues on February 20.

New Delhi also hopes that the “ambiguity” regarding the citizenship issue under the Constitution is removed though it admits that nearly one thousand women were granted immediate citizenship on their getting married to a Nepali national in the last three months.

During Oli’s visit, the two sides are also expected to discuss Indian aid for reconstruction after the devastating earthquake in Nepal. The flow of the aid was “paused” in the past few months due to absence of a law to regulate it.

It is understood that India would also like to “forget” Nepal’s “lack of inclusion and discriminatory” approach while adopting the new Constitution and move forward to strengthen the age-old ties.


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