Swaraj pledges help for new govts

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Feb 3, 2018-

External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj has said Nepal’s leaders can unleash development and ensure people’s rights by respecting the people’s mandate as they form governments at the Centre and in the provinces.

In her meetings with leaders of the Madhes-based parties on Thursday and Friday, the visiting Indian minister urged them to cooperate with the government of the left alliance “for Nepal’s development and prosperity”. She suggested that Madhesi lawmakers could from their government in Province 2 and work for taking the people out of poverty and underdevelopment while advocating their rights, according to Rajendra Mahato, a Rastriya Janata Party, Nepal leader.

While congratulating political leaders on their victory in the recently concluded polls, Swaraj said that New Delhi was ready to work closely with the new governments in Nepal in their quest for development and prosperity.

According to party leaders who met Swaraj before she returned to the Indian capital on Friday afternoon, the visiting minister encouraged political actors to cooperate with each other to meet Nepali people’s aspirations.

After meeting with top political leaders, President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, Swaraj wrapped up her two-day visit.

During her trip, the Indian delegation also made efforts to deepen their relations with the left alliance of the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre), which is forming the government in Kathmandu and in six of the seven provinces.

New Delhi had patchy relations with the UML following the border blockade of 2015 and the fall of the KP Sharma Oli-led government in July 2016. Left alliance leaders’ perceived positive response to India’s “eagerness” to work closely with the new government in Kathmandu has been described as a “thaw” in their relations.

In her separate meetings with leaders from the UML and the RJP-N on Thursday evening, and Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal chief Upendra Yadav on Friday, Swaraj is reported to have expressed her happiness that Nepal would have stable governments after a long time.

In her meeting with Dahal, Swaraj expressed her concern about formation of the new federal government. “We had a positive and constructive discussion about the post-election scenario and government formation. She also wanted to know about the political course Nepal would take,” Dahal told journalists after the meeting.

According to Dahal, Swaraj assured him of India’s cooperation with Nepal in its quest for development and stability.

After their meeting with Swaraj, leaders of the RJP-N and the SSF-N have started a gathering in Janakpur, the headquarters of Province 2, to discuss ways to form a new provincial government. But chances of the Madhesi parties joining the government at the Centre are said to be slim.

“Unless we get the assurance of constitutional amendments from the UML, we won’t join a government led by Oli,” said Mahato. But the Yadav-led SSF-N is undecided whether to join the government in Kathmandu, most likely led by Oli.

“While conveying the message of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the UML brass, she categorically told us that India will maintain close relations with the new government and cooperate with it,” said UML leader Rajan Bhattarai.

According to Madhesi leader Mahato, Swaraj remarked that the popular mandate was for the two-party Madhesi alliance to form the government in Province 2. She argued that it would be easier for the Madhesi parties to achieve development in the region and have a strong voice for people’s rights if they worked together.

Madhesi leaders drew the Indian minister’s attention to unfinished Indian projects in the Tarai and urged her to create an environment for their early completion. “Let the government be formed first; we’ll definitely help you,” she is said to have told the Madhesi leaders.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during her meeting with President Bhandari and Prime Minister Deuba, both the sides expressed satisfaction at the current state of bilateral relations and discussed matters of mutual interest.

Meanwhile, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that Swaraj conveyed to all the political leaders of Nepal that the government of India was looking forward to working with the democratically elected government to take forward bilateral ties to newer heights for mutual benefit, and to support the government of Nepal, as per its priorities, in its endeavours for rapid economic growth and development.

Swaraj congratulated the government and people of Nepal for the successful conduct of three-tier elections in Nepal, which is an important milestone in the democratic transition of Nepal, the statement read.


Says India’s EA ministry

Government of India is looking forward to working with the democratically elected government to take forward bilateral ties to newer heights for mutual benefit, and to support the government of Nepal, as per its priorities, in its endeavours for rapid economic growth and development

Published: 03-02-2018 08:00

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