Shortage of fuel and short-supply of daily essentials have completely paralysed normal life in Nepal for the past several weeks. Transportation has come to a virtual standstill, and the industrial sector has been badly affected by what is widely viewed locally as border blockade by India. Even the good bilateral relations between Nepal and India are passing through a rough phase. This neither benefits Nepal nor India in the long run. The two close neighbours must step up efforts at political and diplomatic levels to sort things out at the earliest possible. Here, New Delhi may be advised to use its leverage to resume fuel supply from the border points — other than Birgunj — where there are no protests or obstructions. This kind of a situation must come to an end urgently. Normal life cannot be thrown into chaos. India is expected to immediately withdraw the blockade unofficially imposed, for whatever reason, on its closest neighbour, Nepal.
Some Madhesi parties that walked out of the Constituent Assembly before the promulgation of Nepal’s new Constitution are agitating for about two months. They, however, returned to the Parliament to take part in the voting for the new prime minister’s election. Now, an environment should be created to facilitate the agitating parties to return to the political mainstream and get involved in the implementation of the Constitution. The agitating side also should shun violence, stop obstructing the border, and eschew disturbing general life and targeting public transport. They should put off — if they cannot stop it at all — the ongoing agitation and take part in decisive talks to resolve the issues through peaceful means. The government on its part should create a conducive environment for dialogue.
The formal talks that have started between the government and the agitating parties are a positive step. Both the government and the agitating side should now engage in meaningful dialogue to find a negotiated settlement. It is possible to resolve the issues if the government and the agitating parties wade a middle path that would be agreeable to both the sides, without creating a situation in which outsiders or third parties interfere in the domestic issues. Now, this should be the national priority for the government, Parliament and political parties.
A version of this article appears in print on October 28, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.