Mr. Modi’s speech got much praise, and was received very well by all lawmakers. In terms of concrete objectives though, what do you think his visit achieved.
Prime Minister Modi, has won the hearts of the people of Nepal. Look at how they lined up to see him on the streets, what more can you ask for? He has said he wishes to see a peaceful Nepal, a stable Nepal, a democratic Nepal with a constitution completed. What more could we ask for?
Even so, two key agreements, expected to be signed during his visit: the Power Trade Agreement and the Project Development Agreement, could not be signed. Are you disappointed?
We are all very disappointed. We tried very hard till the last minute to have a consensus and to sign the agreements, but were unable to. Who to blame? All of us are to blame, this isn’t India’s fault. But we are hopeful all our parties will come together to agree to the PTA and PDA, so they can be signed when Mr. Modi comes to Nepal next for the SAARC summit in November. Even on the SAARC front, I am very hopeful that the summit Nepal will host will begin a new era in SAARC ties. The future is very hopeful.
India and Nepal have now agreed to renegotiate the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty. Would you accept the demand of Indian parties that Nepal must also give Indian citizens the same rights given to Nepali citizens in India?
I have not yet thought through what Nepal would like, or agree to in the Treaty. When that time comes, we will definitely take everyone on board before deciding.
The Congress party in India has made a strong statement in this regard....
Yes and we are aware of the concerns from India. It will be looked at when the question comes up.
When meeting Mr. Modi, every party here has raised concerns on the delay in project implementations. On the one hand, many accuse India of a “big brother” attitude, on the other they say India doesn’t take enough interest. Do you think Mr. Modi was able to reassure you?
I think his visit, and his words have gone a long way in rebuilding trust here in Nepal. As far as project delays are concerned, well that happens on both sides.
You have now agreed to timelines: 45 days for the PDA&PTA, One year for the Pancheshwar dam terms of reference, and expediting roads, transmission lines etc. What happens if these deadlines are missed?
Well both India and Nepal’s government’s credibility will suffer if these projects don’t happen as we have now agreed. But I am very hopeful that a new beginning has been made and the power and infrastructure projects will happen.
What do you say to those in India who worry about Nepal’s perceived tilt to China? That China is building up infrastructure along your borders, winning contracts and that Chinese goods have an easier flow into Nepal?
I would say that concern is ridiculous. After all, even when Mr. Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister, didn’t he visit China and negotiate for business? When he goes to US next month, will he not discuss agreements? Then why worry about Nepal’s relations with China?
Finally, Mr. Modi spoke about the need to finish the task of writing Nepal’s constitution. How confident are you that this can be completed by January 2015?
I am 100% confident our constitution will be ready by the January 2015 deadline. The constitution is our first priority, and we are working with all parties on this. I have no doubt whatsoever that it will be completed.