Policy

Question mark over Nepal PM’s India visit next month

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 19, 2018

Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli

New Delhi welcomes amendments to Nepal constitution, but says real issues yet to be addressed





Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s plan to undertake his first official trip to India seems to have hit a roadblock again even after Nepal carried out its first set of amendments to the newly promulgated constitution.

“They have not yet accepted the main demand for the creation of separate provinces specially designated for the Madhesis … We have welcomed the move to amend the constitution, but the real issue has to be addressed. We cannot take a final call on his (Oli’s) visit unless things are sorted out,” a top official told BusinessLine on condition of anonymity.

The amendments relate to three articles – Article 42, Article 84 and Article 286 – to resolve the 11-point demands made by the Madhesis.

It proposes to grant proportional representation to the local Madhesis in the Lower House of Parliament. Additionally, the amendments will now also allow the Madhesis and other marginalised communities get greater representation in government bodies and other institutions on a proportional basis.

“The amendments were not made according to the demands made by the agitators. Besides Madhesis, they also do not address the concerns of other marginalised communities like the Janjatis, Dalits, Muslims and women. Their demands were not taken on board,” the official said.

On Tuesday, the Nepal Prime Minister had said it would not be “appropriate” for him to visit India “unless the situation returns to normalcy.” He, however, said India has imposed an “unofficial border blockade” which he hoped will be lifted soon.

Oli is expected to visit India next month, which will be his first foreign visit as Prime Minister.

On December 22, the Nepal Parliament voted to amend the constitution, which was promulgated on September 20, in an effort to put an end to the massive agitation led by the local Madhesis living in the plains of the Himalayan kingdom, which Nepal has alleged India of instigating.

The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) consisting of four political parties from the Terai region has rejected the amendments stating that their main demands have not been met.

Terai-Madhes Democratic Party spokesperson Sarbendra Nath Shukla has stated that they will continue their agitation. The agitators continue to block the Raxaul-Birgunj border checkpoint.

The amendments came after the visit of Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa to India. They had vowed to amend the constitution and make it more inclusive and delineate electoral constituencies on the basis of the population.

On December 31, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Oli had a telephonic conversation on the political developments. Modi had then invited him to visit India. Modi has visited Nepal twice.

Currently, more than 1,500 trucks from India carrying essential commodities enter Nepal every day through other checkpoints. However, people there continue to reel under acute shortage of essential items such as petroleum products and medicines.



Published on January 27, 2016

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