Swaraj hopeful of political solution within a week
Kathmandu, December 7
External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj today said India had consistently wanted to resolve the crisis facing Nepal politically so that the agitating Madhesis got justice and the suffering of the common people caused by months-long border blockade was brought to an end.
Responding to queries raised by over a dozen lawmakers during a Short Duration debate in Indian Parliament’s Upper House, the Rajya Sabha, on Indo-Nepal relations, she hoped that a negotiated settlement would be reached on political issues within five to seven days.
Swaraj said she had talked to Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa last week, and to senior Madhesi politicians who are now in New Delhi and suggested them to find a political solution as soon as possible.
She claimed Nepal’s new constitution was a step back from the Interim Constitution regarding the issues of proportional inclusion and citizenship as far as marital naturalisation is concerned.
Maintaining that New Delhi was not responsible for the blockade, she said it was the Madhesi protesters who were blockading the border entry points.
She also pointed out that had the constitution amendment bill registered by Sushil Koirala-led government been passed, the current problem would have been resolved by now. She clarified that India had no motivation to restore monarchy in Nepal.
She also claimed that India did not have a “big brotherly attitude” towards Nepal, but its behaviour was more like an “elder brother”, which, according to her, is caring and sharing one.
Based on the suggestions of the lawmakers, who spoke during the session, Swaraj said the government was ready to send an all-party delegation to Nepal to take stock of the situation.
She said the Indian side had offered to airlift essential medicines to Nepal but it was yet to get the list of the required medicines.
Stating that Nepal is an independent and sovereign country, she said India was not being prescriptive but only facilitating Nepal’s constitution process.
Earlier, while speaking at the House session, Indian lawmakers accused the Indian government of high-handedness, big-brotherly attitude and interfering in Nepal’s internal political matters, as well as using a section of Nepali society against another.
Pavan Kumar Varma of JD(U), said New Delhi had failed while dealing diplomatically with Nepal. He criticised India’s stand against Nepal’s human rights record in UN Human Rights Council and raising of Nepal’s political issues at the joint communiqués with the United Kingdom and the Maldives.
Dr Karan Singh of the Indian National Congress highlighted the critical humanitarian situation in Nepal due to shortage of fuel, medicines and other essentials and advised the Indian government to use its good offices to pressure the concerned parties in Nepal to accept the provisions that were included in the Interim Constitution of 2007 as far Madhesis’ demands were concerned.
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He said the new constitution had alienated a large section of the country, particularly the Madhesis, who had been discriminated against since long.
DP Tripathi, who is also General Secretary of Nationalist Congress Party, said India should encourage Nepali stakeholders to resolve their internal problems. “There should be no interference, we can only extend solidarity and cooperation,” he added.
Sharad Yadav , chairperson of JD (U), wondered if the Indian government was using its relations with Nepal to achieve its national political goal.
VP Singh Badnore of BJP said Indian diplomats should not show big brotherly attitude towards Nepal.
Salim Ansari of BSP said India should not do anything that would help Chinese make inroads in Nepal.