NEW DELHI: India’s relations with Nepal has gone to a new low, with New Delhi chastising Nepal’s political leadership for not heeding its caution over promulgating the constitution in a hurry without meeting aspirations of all communities and letting the situation deteriorate with violent protests.
In its second statement in two days, Ministry of external affairs said India was “deeply concerned over the incidents of violence resulting in death and injury in regions of Nepal bordering India following the promulgation of Constitution yesterday”. India had called its ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae for day-long consultations to gauge the situation.
For the first time, MEA said that transportation of supplies at the border had been impacted. “Our freight companies and transporters have also voiced complaints about the difficulties they are facing in movement within Nepal and their security concerns, due to the prevailing unrest,” he said.
In no uncertain words, an upset India put the blame on the situation on the door of Nepal’s politicians from the ‘Big 3’ parties – Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and Maoists.
“We had repeatedly cautioned the political leadership of Nepal to take urgent steps to defuse the tension in these regions. This, if done in a timely manner, could have avoided these serious developments,” it asserted.
The statement went on to say that India has “consistently argued that all sections of Nepal must reach a consensus on the political challenges confronting them”.
The issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved through force. We still hope that initiatives will be taken by Nepal’s leadership to effectively and credibly address the causes underlying the present state of confrontation,” it added.
Sources said that the statement issued with its rather undiplomatic language was a reflection of level of disappointment and anger in New Delhi. The emotion is more extreme as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had personally invested in the relationship, with two visits to Nepal within a year and generous assistance during the devastating earthquake.
In the last week before the Nepal constitution was approved, India had mustered its diplomatic muscle – with interventions and phone calls by External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and a visit by foreign secretary S Jaishankar. But, to no avail.
Immediately after India released today’s statement, there was apprehension expressed across some sections of Nepali civil society that mention of difficulty in freight movement in the press note was the first step towards a blockade – echoing fears of 1989 border shutdown.
However, sources told Express that India was not considering any punitive action. “We have no plans. But we don’t need to have any blockade. Supplies have already been impacted due to the curfew and violence,” he said.
For last few weeks, Indian fuel trucks have had to be escorted with security till Kathmandu. At Raxaul border point, over 1500 trucks are awaiting to cross the border, in a queue of 25 kilometre-long.
Meanwhile, Pakistan and China have welcomed promulgation of the constitution. India had only conspicuously “noted” the event in its statement on Sunday.
It is learnt that the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nepal is likely to issues a joint statement on behalf of the international community on Tuesday, which will also indicate that Nepali leadership has not taken on board all sections of society.
“The international community is beginning to understand the seriousness of the situation,” said sources.
The current state of affairs, Indian sources assert, is a direct result of Nepali politicians not ready to give the Madheshis, Tharu and Janjati community their rightful share in decision-making.
In the new constitution, parliament will have 165 seats – out which 105 will be in the hill region, while 65 carved out of the Terai. “This is despite Madeshis accounting for 51.3 percent of the population,” he said.
The unequal nature of the drawing up of districts and provinces, such that Madhesh majority areas are not economically viable, has been deeply unsatisfactory, sources asserted.
Further, the Nepal constitution lists all communities in the list of reservations, which is a mockery of affirmative action.
Officials felt that the situation in Terai was extremely grim, with sources even using the ‘P’ word. “Let us say that India will not like to see Nepal partitioned,” said sources.