Nepal on Wednesday accorded a warm welcome to President Pranab Mukherjee but asserted that India should avoid interfering in the internal issues of the country. Soon upon the arrival of the Indian President, divisions in Nepali politics became evident on the issue of constitutional amendments for the Madhesi people of the plains, even as the visiting President praised the democratic struggle in Nepal and urged his hosts to draft a constitution that would address the “diverse social fabric.”
Top sources from the Government of Nepal maintained that Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ was on his way to complete a series of amendments to the year-old Constitution in the next three or four months, but said they would prefer to do so without interference from major powers, including India.‘Internal matter’
Speaking to The Hindu , Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat said, “As far as the constitutional amendments for accommodating aspirations of the Madhesi people are concerned it is an internal matter of our country because Madhesis are Nepalis and their aspirations are internal matters of Nepal. I have taken this line not just in the government but also in my party, Nepali Congress.”
However, leaders from the Madhesi parties made it clear that they would take up the issue of continued denial of rights to the Madhesi people with President Mukherjee.
Speaking to The Hindu , Rajendra Mahato of the Nepal Sadbhavna Party, a major Madhesi outfit, said, “The current government of Nepal under PM Prachanda is no different from the previous governments and they are not serious about addressing the grievances of the Madhesis. We will brief the Indian President about how we are being compelled to restart our agitation for constitutional rights,” and added, “we will soon withdraw from the coalition if the current state of affairs persists.”
President Mukherjee in his speech at the state banquet noted the task ahead for Nepal in framing a constitution that addresses its “diverse social fabric.” Striking a positive note, he said, “The commitment of the people of Nepal in pursuing this transformation is truly commendable.”
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, elaborating on the bilateral meetings between President Mukherjee and his hosts, indicated that India urged Nepal to bridge internal differences. He also acknowledged that the constitution amendment process had moved ahead in the last few months but said India continued to ask Nepal to embrace a broad-based approach in writing the constitution.
“Essentially, the President said, ‘look at India’s experience’, and try to carry all sections of the population along. It is a painstaking process. It takes a lot of debate and consultation. What we are saying is this is our experience and if you feel that there is something to be drawn, Nepal can use the same for its constitution-writing process,” Mr. Jaishankar said, briefing the media on continued conversation between India and Nepal.
The new constitution adopted in September 2015 triggered an internal upheaval.