General

India upset by constituency delineation, Tarai violence

- Devendra Bhattarai, DELHI
Indian officials say the provision for delineating electoral constituencies based on population was an issue of concern

Sep 23, 2015-India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has expressed “serious concerns” over removal of the provision of delineation of electoral constituencies based on population from the new constitution as ensured by the Interim Constitution.

In a consultation with envoys of India and Nepal on Tuesday, the MEA, in the presence of Nepal Desk Chief Joint Secretary Abhay Thakur, drew the attention to its concerns over issues of constituency delineation and ongoing protests in the Tarai region of Nepal bordering India.

The officials lamented the fact that senior leaders in Nepal ignored India’s concerns twice. First time, the Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae had met leaders to urge them to heed India’s concerns and the second attempt was made by Secretary S Jaishankar.

The consultations in Delhi, which was attended by Nepali Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay, Indian Ambassador to Nepal Rae, noted that unrest and insecurity in southern districts of Nepal bordering with India has continued unabated. “It is essential to take immediate initiatives to resolve it through mutual understanding and consultation,” said Rae.

Indian officials stressed that the provision for delineating electoral constituencies based on population was an issue of concern for them in the new constitution. The new constitution has a provision to delineate electoral constituencies based on ‘geography and population’.

The Interim Constitution had increased the first-past-the-post constituencies to 240 from the previous 205. Stating that the ongoing protests and shutdowns in Tarai would impact India, the Indian officials urged the government to seek a solution without further delay.

Ambassador Upadhyay, however, assured of resolving the problem at the earliest opportunity stating that the political negotiations were underway to address concerns raised by the agitating parties.

“The concerns raised by Madhesi and Tharu will be addressed,” Ambassador Upadhyay said after the meeting held at MEA.“But political understanding is essential in first stage. Thereby, we have to follow process. Be it Federal Commission or other agreement law/regulation must be formulated.”

On a different issue, Upadhyay cautioned that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘popular image’ was eroding in Nepal.  “Things would not have escalated to this level if you have informed us of your concerns,” an official who attended the meeting said quoting the ambassador.

Ambassador Upadhyay also expressed his concern to Indian official for the awkward situation that has been created by India’s failure to welcome the new constitution.

“Yes. We did not welcome. How can we welcome it when our concerns are not addressed?” an Indian official said in the meeting, according to sources. “India will welcome it when we see an indication that our concerns are being addressed.”

Indian Ambassador Rae remained busy on Tuesday briefing officials at the PMO and MEA.

He is expected to convey the message of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his Nepali counterpart Sushil Koirala upon his return.

Published: 23-09-2015 08:43

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