India hoping for consensus on constitution in Nepal ahead of Oli visit: S.D. Muni

SDMuni

India-Nepal relations have been in a churn since the Madhesis began an agitation nearly five months ago, demanding an inclusive constitution that accommodates their interests and aspirations. With the Nepal government signalling its intention to address Madhesi demands, there is an imminent possibility of the crisis being resolved which has adversely impacted India’s multi-faceted relations with the Himalayan state. This could set an upbeat tone for Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Oli’s visit to India in February.

In an exclusive interview with Sridhar Ramaswamy of India Writes Network, Prof. S.D. Muni, a noted South Asia expert and Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), India’s premier think tank, spoke about the trajectory of India-Nepal relations and expectations from Mr Oli’s visit.

Q. With Nepal’s PM K.P Oli making India as his first stop overseas destination, what are the likely areas that would be focused on during his visit?

A. There is no big agenda as such during Mr Oli’s visit. The constitution amendment will be a major focus area and India will hope that all sides in Nepal reach a consensus on the issue. India will hope that the steps taken will be in the right direction to resolve the dispute. Apart from the constitutional amendment, some development-related issues could figure in the talks.

Q. With the Nepal envoy to India stating that the border points will be cleared soon, are the Madhesis and political parties likely to reach a solution soon?

A. The two sides are already talking to each other. Unless they arrive at a mutual consensus to amend the constitution, a solution cannot be reached soon.

Q. With the Raxaul-Birgunj border being blocked, are India and Nepal working towards finding a solution to resume trade through the region?

A. Unless the constitutional amendment is made, there is no way the blockade will be removed. There is trade happening through alternative routes where there is no blockade, but there will be no compromise in the Raxaul-Birgunj region as the blockade is from the Nepal side.

KP-Sharma-Oli

Q. With Nepal deciding to import fuel from China, has there been any tangible development in this area or is it still merely on paper?

A. The understanding with China is not a long-term agreement, it is only a temporary solution. This is unlikely to impact Nepal’s ties with India.

Q. Is the Oli government likely to last its term given that the situation is still very tense?

A. There are question marks already about the Oli government. The allies are demanding the need to have a more broad-based government.

 

 

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India Writes Network
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