Nepal agrees to amend Constitution as India urges it to have constructive dialogue on the issue

Madhesi protest in Nepal

New Delhi, Dec 22: Urging the Nepali political forces to engage in a constructive dialogue on the Constitutional issues, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Monday said the Government of India welcomed the developments that helped create the basis for a resolution of the current impasse in the Himalayan nation.

Swarup said: “We urge all Nepali political forces to now demonstrate the necessary maturity and flexibility to find a satisfactory solution to the Constitutional issues through constructive dialogue in an agreed timeframe.”

The MEA spokesperson said: “The External Affairs Minister was informed by Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamala Thapa that the Nepalese Cabinet took decisions to resolve demands regarding the Constitution raised by agitating Madhes-based parties.”

Swarup pointed out that the decisions included amendments to the Constitution on participation in the state organs on the basis of proportionate inclusiveness and delineation of electoral constituencies on the basis of population.

“The demarcation of provinces is also to be addressed through an appropriate arrangement in the Constitution on the basis of political consensus. Similarly, others demands including citizenship are to be resolved through negotiations and consensus,” he said.

Swarup further stated that as a neighbour and well-wisher, India was deeply concerned at the unrest stemming from internal differences in Nepal on the Constitution.

“We are confident that a return to normalcy in Nepal would create a more secure and predictable climate for unimpeded commerce between our two countries,” he added.

Meanwhile, a meeting between the Nepali Congress and Madhesi leaders is underway at former prime minister Sushil Koirala’s residence in Kathmandu to discuss the future course of action.

In a landmark decision, the government of Nepal shifted its position and decided on Monday to move to address the demands of the agitating Madhesis with regard to the new Constitution.

According to report, the government of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has proposed that it will have a relook at clauses in the Constitution Amendment Bill related to proportional representation of women, Dalits, Janajatis and the Madhesi community in state bodies and electoral constituency delimitation based on the population by retaining at least one constituency for each of the 75 districts, besides the issue of redrawing of borders of federal provinces.

Expressing their disagreement with the constitution amendment proposal as it exists today, disgruntled regional parties had returned to their constituencies with a warning to the government that they would intensify their protests if their demands were not met.

The Madhesis, the Indian-origin inhabitants of the Terai region, have been agitating over the new Constitution, demanding more representation.

They are also protesting against the division of their ancestral homeland under the seven-province structure and have led an ongoing blockade of key border trade points with India.

Meanwhile, agitating students here have sought an early resolution to the ongoing constitution-related crisis in Nepal in the wake of schools and colleges remaining closed for the third straight month.

With just a few months to go for their final exams, the students had urged the government and the agitators to hold negotiations and resolve the crisis.

About 50 people have died since the protests began in September.

(With Agency Inputs)

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