Recent expression of a Nepali Congress leader indicates that the Nepalese establishment believes the current blockade is not going to end until the 17-day old constitution of the world’s youngest republic is amended to match India’s expectations.
A Central Working Committee member of the country’s oldest political party stunned his colleagues on Wednesday when he told them that the blockade the India-locked nation is currently facing will be lifted ‘tomorrow’ should Nepal amend its constitution.
Dr Shekhar Koirala, a senior leader of the largest party in the Himalayan nation, made the remark while angrily reacting to one of his fellow leaders who criticized the party for not doing enough to internationalise the issue.
It is noteworthy that members of Nepali Congress, which Prime Minister Sushil Koirala belongs to, have been criticising the party for failing to rise up to the occasion and safeguard national interests.
“The government has put forward two-point constitution amendment bill. Pass it (in the parliament) and the blockade will be over tomorrow,” popular Nepalese digital media outlet Onlinekhabar quoted Dr Koirala.
He was speaking at the party’s Central Working Committee meeting yesterday which was convened by Prime Minister Koirala to decide the formation (power and portfolio sharing) of the next government. Although the original agenda of the meeting was something else, the party leadership was eventually forced to issue a statement in relation to the Indian blockade as pressure mounted from certain leaders present on the occasion, it is understood.
Youth leader Gagan Thapa came down heavily on the party leadership for its lack of clarity on the issue. He lamented that the party had not even defined whether or not the current imbroglio amounts to a ‘blockade’.
The government has already registered the bill Dr Koirala referred to. It proposes to amend three Articles of the freshly-promulgated constitution to ensure proportional inclusive representation and the demarcation of electoral constituencies based on population, reports in Kathmandu media said.
India has not formally made demands to Nepal in relation to the constitution. However, most Nepalese understand India has imposed the blockade to punish Nepal for its failure to satisfy demands of the Madhesi people, the Nepalese of Indian origin. They claim that they will be under-represented in the national mainstream under the new arrangements.
India has time and again denied that it approached Nepalese leaders with a seven point recommendation in relation to the constitution, as claimed by an Indian national broadsheet daily on September 22.