11October 2016: The “anti-India” sentiment which was said to be prevalent in Nepal following the recent blockade by India was not really an “anti-India” sentiment but it was rather a feeling of “hurt” in the Nepalese people, said Nepal’s former foreign minister Bhekh Bahadur Thapa in an interview with an Indian website.
Expressing his appreciation of Narendra Modi’s initial “gesture to look to the neighbourhood as a priority” immediately after he became India’s prime minister, the career diplomat-turned politician said Mr Modi left “a very very positive impression” in the minds of Nepalese people during his two visits to the Himalayan nation.
“And Nepalese people have failed to understand why blockade on the heel of this,” he wondered while responding to a question from Catch News, “Why the kind of undue pressure leading towards blockade? This is something they did not expect.”
So the ensuing mood of the Nepalese mass was more of a ‘hurt’ caused “by the actions of a friend”, he clarified. The friend, Mr Modi in this case, was becoming quite a popular politician in Nepal in those days. Many explained his personal interest in Nepal (at the time) was due to the fact that he was a devout Hindu and hence, his natural inclination towards the Himalayan nation which was until recently the only Hindu kingdom of the world.
The former foreign minister was in New Delhi for a meeting of Eminent Persons Group (EPGs), both from India and Nepal. The EPG is tasked with coming up with recommendations to update (if required) the 1950 Indo-Nepal Peace Treaty, which, he indicated, was not in Nepal’s favour.
Mr Thapa reminded that the recent Indian blockade on Nepal was not the first blockade and that there had been blockades in the past, during the reign of King Birendra. There was an element of “hangover of big country-small country attitude” in the relationship between the two South Asian nations, he pointed out.
“Punishing a regime for their actions eventually affects the people at large, leaving a deep impression or wounds. One doesn’t expect this from a friend,” the former Nepalese ambassador to India rued.