We are concerned with cracks in relationship with India: Nepali leader Oli (IANS Interview)

Kathmandu, Sep 26 (IANS) Chairman of CPN-UML K.P. Sharma Oli, who is expected to be the next prime minister of Nepal, has conveyed his dismay at India’s reaction to the Himalayan nation adopting a new constitution.

“We are very concerned with the cracks in relationship that are visible,” Oli, 63, told IANS in an Interview at his residence here.

Oli said there was “some misunderstanding at present” between the two countries over the new Constitution which Nepal adopted recently. India has urged that the Constitution be amended to take care of rights of all sections of the country, including Madhesis who are largely settled int he Terai region of the country.

Oli said there was no movement in Terai areas of Nepal and some groups were being used for violence. He said the whole world welcomed Nepal’s adoption of the constitution after prolonged efforts but India merely took note of it.

“I am surprised that our reliable, our permanent friend India only took note of it. If the biggest friend only notices, it will cause surprise. We did not expect this. Some confusion can be created in this but our relations cannot be damaged,” Oli said.

He said some problems were visible in the ties. “It should not be that the cracks in relationship that are visible. We are very concerned with that. What is the reason for this?” he asked.

Oli said India’s government, its political parties, media, Indian people are Nepal’s friends and “nobody should get involved in small matters.”

He said it will be wrong to keep the immediate interest in mind and to not understand the entire long-standing relationship.

“I am not making reference to anyone. Nobody should harm the wider relationship by getting into small matters. This is my request,” he said, adding that ties between India and Nepal extend back to centuries and there was a long history of social, cultural, spiritual relations.

Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML), the second largest party in the coalition government, has projected Oli as the next prime ministerial candidate. Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam had said in June that the government to be formed after the promulgation of the new constitution will be headed by CPN-UML.

Nepal adopted a new Constitution on Sunday which states that the federal and secular Nepal will have seven provinces, each with its own legislature.

In its statement, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said, “We note the promulgation in Nepal of new constitution.” It added that India was concerned that the situation in several parts of the country bordering India continues to be violent. India also extended its best wishes to people of Nepal.

A subsequent statement by MEA had expressed deep concern “over the incidents of violence resulting in death and injury in regions of Nepal bordering India”.

Oli said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had won the hearts and minds of people of Nepal during his visit and had hinted at paradigm shift in relationship towards joint economic development.

“What will he (Modi) gain if relationship with Nepal is soured. But there is a misunderstanding somewhere, that’s why India did not give a statement of welcome.”

Oli said Nepal’s new Constitution had support of 85 percent of members of the constituent assembly. “One thing is being said (to us) is to take everyone on board. It is not possible to get 100 percent support in a democratic country,” he said.

Madhes-based political parties and members from the Tharu community walked out of the constituient assembly and rejected the Constitution saying their demands were not incorporated in the new document.

Under the new Constitution, 14 districts in the southern plains would be joined with provinces dominated by hill dwellers.

India is keen that the Nepalese leadership accommodates the aspirations of the people living in plains including Madhesis and janjatis through affirmative action. India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, 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.

Oli said the constituent assembly had wide representation across cross sections of society and the Constitution had been drafted following a democratic procedure.

Answering a query, he said small groups were being provoked and used for violence.

“They are attacking party offices, people are attacked and killed. This is not a movement, it is violence. It is terrorist-type activity,” he said.

Nepal’s first constituent assembly was dismantled in 2012 with political parties differing over majour issues like system of state governance and number of federal units. The second constituent assembly elections were held in 2013. The constitution-making process was apparently hastened after the devastating earthquake in Nepal earlier this year in which about 8,500 people were killed.

The Maoists had won the elections to the constituent assembly in 2008 leading to abolition of over two centuries of monarchy.

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