For more than forty days, the state has imposed curfew in parts of Tarai-Madhesh in a desperate bid to control the protests.
While China, the other mammoth economy vying for geopolitical influence in the region, promptly issued a statement “sincerely” congratulating Nepal and promising to keep providing economic assistance, India didn’t hesitate to show its displeasure.
The history of democracy in Nepal is not only chequered, but also truncated. BJP MP Avaidyanath had written to the president of Nepal and the chairman of the Constituent Assembly calling for Nepal to be declared a Hindu Rashtra. But power-sharing squabbles between parties stymied progress on the draft.
Amendments to the Nepali Constitution can be made with relative ease over the next two years and four months during the transition of the CA to the Parliament with the same party based configuration.
A second CA was elected in 2013, and a 16-point agreement was forged between the Big 3 and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Democratic) to demarcate eight federal provinces in the Constitution.
According to the government, there are three major problems with the Constitution which prevents India from warmly welcoming the document. With the new constitutional provisions the democratic aspirations of the marginalised have been bulldozed by prevailing majoritarian tendencies. He was to fly to New York on Wednesday evening with an 18-member delegation.
As things stand, however, new strains have developed in the relationship which need to be ironed out lest the Chinese take advantage of this to drive a deeper wedge between Nepal and India.
Containers carrying essential commodities have been halted in the Indian border town of Raxaul as Madhesi parties stage sit-in in the middle of the Raxaul-Birganj road. After all, if elections are held tomorrow, the Terai people could upset the applecart with their vote. Kathmandu elites have, for long, used the India card to prevent genuine power devolution. #BackoffIndia, says the raging new hashtag.
The placatory moves followed a week of public diplomatic statements issued by India asking Nepal to hold fresh consultations with the Madhesi and Tharu communities in the Himalayan nation’s plains over controversial clauses in the constitution that these communities are opposing. While India doesn’t want to unnecessarily annoy Kathmandu by supporting groups calling for blockade and separatism, it needs to be seen pushing for consensus, dialogue and stability – and to do all this while denying interference in Nepal’s internal matters.