New Delhi: As Nepali political leaders tentatively reached out to Madheshi leaders in Kathmandu on Tuesday, India felt that any proposed dialogue will have an impact only if it was credible, result-oriented and came with a timeline.
In Delhi, Nepal’s ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhayay visited South Block, where he met with the head of the Nepal desk in the ministry of external affairs. He was conveyed India’s position and concerns which had been made clear in recent slew of statements issued by MEA.
The Indian ambassador to Nepal, Ranjit Rae who was called to Delhi for consultations yesterday will leave for Kathmandu on Wednesday.
A day after India gave an unusually blunt statement ticking off the Nepali political leadership for not heeding its caution over promulgating new constitution, there were several meetings between the top Nepali leadership and Madheshi leaders – even as there were reports of clashes in Terai.
Prime Minister Sushil Koirala went to the party office of chairman of Tarai-Madhesh Democratic Party Mayantha Thakur. “This is for the first time. It is unheard of a big Hill politicians going to the office or residence of a Madheshi leader,” said a senior official monitoring the situation in Nepal.
However, the meeting did not seem have made a breakthrough, with Thakur telling reporters that Koirala did not have any clear proposal or position on the key demands. As per local media reports, Thakur told the Nepali prime minister that the talk would only be possible after the government came with a concrete proposal on issues related to demarcation, proportional system, citizenship and electoral constituency.
Meanwhile, a similar message was also given by another senior Madheshi leader, chairman of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik, Bijaya Gachhadar, who met with the top leadership of the Big 3 political parties who also came to his office for the meeting.
The ball is in the court of the Nepali political parties to start a dialog. “But, such a dialogue can only be helpful if it is credible, result-oriented and comes with a timeline,” sources told Express.
Officials pointed out that the statements made by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and United States on the Nepal constitution also were on similar lines as that of the Indian position.
While Ban Ki-Moon only coolly “acknowledged” the Nepal constitution, US state department spokesperson John Kirby said that Nepal government should “continue efforts to accommodate the views of all Nepalis”.
Sources said that that situation had come to this passé due to “petty individual reasons”, pointing a finger at Communist Party of Nepal-UML KP Oli for his personal ambition to be the next prime minister which led to the rush to pass the constitution.
Officials said that while the Nepali political parties had made promises, “but if only they had institutionalized those commitments, situation would not have come to this pass”.
Meanwhile, India’s mention of disrupted cargo transport in Terai in its statement was interpreted to be a ‘threat’ of blockade by sections of the Nepali twitterati, which trended “#backoffindia” during the day.
The fears of blockade by India was certainly fanned by certain Nepali politicians. At a book launch in Kathmandu, Maoist chief Prachanda said, “We don't want to fight or have an argument with India. If India enforces blockade, we will ride bicycles, instead of vehicles”.
As Express had reported on Monday, sources again reiterated that there was no plan to implement any punitive action like a blockade to demonstrate Indian anger. Officials pointed out that the impediment in supplies was due to the recent holiday over promulgation of constitution and subsequent violence in the lowlands.
With the Nepali capital rife with rumours, the Nepali stock market plunged 39 percent due to blockade fears.
Nepali political leaders finally started scotching the fears by evening - with Oli stating that there was no truth to reports that India did not allow the entry of petro products and vehicles on the border.