India sends top diplomat to defuse crisis in Nepal


Against the backdrop of partisan postures preceding the promulgation of Nepal’s constitution on September 20, India has sent Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar to the Himalayan state to hold last-minute consultations with Nepal’s leadership on meeting demands of all stakeholders and to nudge them to defuse the ongoing violence in the Terai region, bordering Bihar and Uttarakhand.

Nepal’s constitution has been approved by the Constituent Assembly which voted in favour of it. However, not all stakeholders are happy and there have been protests in Nepal, particularly in the Terai region which comprises the Madhesi community. Indian officials are expected to take stock of the situation, and find a way out with local political players. The protests in the region have been violent, triggered largely by discontent with the seven province federal model.

“India is concerned over the ongoing protests and strife in several parts of Nepal. We urge continuing flexibility on the part of all the political forces so that any outstanding issues are addressed through dialogue,” said External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
The crisis in the Terai region has also led to worries in the border regions of India, especially Bihar where elections are due in October. There are seven districts in Bihar that border Nepal, which also are electorally important for the fortunes of some of the state’s leading political parties. The Members of Parliament of the ruling party at the centre from these border areas have been persuading the Centre to interfere in the issue as the people-to-people contact between these districts and the Terai region is very strong.

The decision to send India’s top diplomat to Nepal comes days before elections on Bihar. There is a sizeable Nepali population that comes to work in Bihar, mostly in blue collar jobs. The influx of people from Nepal in the border regions has been a major point of discussion among the leaders in the border states.

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