Kathmandu, Sep 21 (IANS) Nepal’s top political leaders on Monday vowed to maintain good relations with India, a day after New Delhi voiced concern over unrest in areas bordering India after the promulgation of the new constitution in the Himalayan nation.
Three major political parties — the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the UCPN-Maoist — held a joint rally in Kathmandu on Monday where they vowed to addressed the demands of agitating Madhes-based parties and the Tharu community who have been protesting in the southern plains for over a month over the seven-state model envisaged in the country’s new constitution.
Over 40 people have been killed in the protest, and dozens of others injured.
“We want to be good friends with India,” Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ said in his address to the joint rally.
He said Nepal’s immediate neighbours India and China should welcome this historic moment of promulgation of the constitution.
“I hope India and China will show special respect to this historic achievement,” he said.
Referring to India, he said: “We are ready to address the legitimate and genuine concerns of India but it should also pay heed to Nepal’s concerns.”
“We want to be India’s friend, not ‘yes man’,” said Dahal, who is known for his vitriolic anti-India rhetoric.
Prime Minister Sushil Koirala of the Nepali Congress, addressing the rally, said Nepal was willing to move ahead by maintaining harmonious relations with both India and China for its dream to be a prosperous and stable nation.
He said the new constitution has fulfilled the expectations of all Nepalis, and the focus will now be on work for economic prosperity and development, as well as post-earthquake reconstruction.
CPN-UML chairman K.P. Sharma Oli, who is being tipped as the next prime minister after Koirala demits office, said Nepal wants to have good relations with its immediate neighbour “within the boundary of dignity”.
“I want to tell our neighbours that we want good relations with you, let’s work together and let’s share the natural resources we have,” he said, without referring to India.
India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishanker, who visited Nepal last week, had urged the Nepali leadership to delay the promulgation of the new constitution for some days to address the concerns of various agitating groups.
India’s Ambassador Ranjit Rae on Monday left for New Delhi to meet the top Indian leadership, and to brief them about the latest political situation in Nepal.
(Anil Giri can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)