NEW DELHI: India’s relations with Nepal have touched a new low on Monday, with New Delhi chastising Kathmandu’s political leadership for not heeding its advice against promulgating the new Constitution in a hurry. In its second statement in as many days, the 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 the Constitution yesterday.” India had earlier called its Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae for day-long consultations.
For the first time, the MEA said 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,” it said.
In no uncertain words, an upset India put the blame for the present situation squarely on the shoulders 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 the statement, with its rather undiplomatic language, was a reflection of the 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 after 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’s statement, apprehensions were expressed among some sections in the Nepali civil society that the mention of “difficulty in freight movement” could be the first step towards a blockade – echoing fears of the 1989 border shutdown. However, sources told Express India was not considering punitive action. “We have no plans. But we don’t need to have any blockade. Supplies have already been impacted,” they said.