Amid ongoing border crisis, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli to visit New Delhi.
Prime Minister Modi made the move days after Deputy Prime Minister of the Himalayan country Kamal Thapa and Law Minister Agni Kharel concluded their visit to China. The two Nepalese leaders were in Beijing to prepare the groundwork for Prime Minister Oli’s upcoming China visit. During their telephonic conversations, Modi and Oli discussed various issues, including the ongoing restrictions on flow of goods (from India to Nepal) from the border points. According to sources close to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Nepalese PM said that he would visit New Delhi only after ease of supplies of Indian goods to Nepal. However, he did not forget to thank the Indian government for welcoming the Constitution Amendment Bill presented in the Nepalese Parliament.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi told the Nepalese PM that it would be important for Kathmandu to find a durable solution to the ongoing political problems in his country on the basis of a consensus. He also expressed serious concern over the protests staged by Madhesis, who share strong cultural and family bonds with Indians, demanding more rights.
Madhesi leaders recently submitted an 11-point demand to the government of Nepal in which they clearly mentioned that Kathmandu should re-demarcate the provinces and fix electoral constituencies on the basis of population and proportional representation. Although India claimed that a general strike, called by the Madhesis in southern part of Nepal, triggered a shortage of fuel and other essential goods in the country, it backed the protest. India also advised Nepal to allow Madhesi people to participate in mainstream politics and policymaking process. New Delhi believes that Madhesis have every right to set the agenda for federalism.
As Nepal and India are arguing over what constitutes blockade and what does not, China has sent across a message that it will do every thing possible to steer Nepal off the humanitarian crisis looming larger over it. Beijing has supplied approximately 1,000 metric tonnes of petroleum to its southern neighbour in an attempt to rescue the country, hit hard by shortages of fuel and other essential commodities since India declared that its vehicles, carrying goods across the border into Nepal, were not safe.
Naturally, China’s attempt to maintain ‘special relations’ with Nepal worries India and the South Asian powerhouse advises Nepal not to allow China to interfere in its internal issues. For the last few weeks, New Delhi has repeatedly said that the Madhesi agitation in Nepal’s Terai region is ‘a political problem and needs a political solution’. Now, Modi has sent a clear message to Nepal that Kathmandu needs to negotiate separately with New Delhi for addressing the current spell of misunderstanding and resultant crisis.