Political events in Nepal trigger palpable concerns in New Delhi

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, NEW DELHI
Politicians and government officials though refrain from making official comments, newspapers have called for early resolution to Kathmandu-Madhes deadlock

Apr 15, 2017- New Delhi though has not officially spoken a word about Nepal’s local level elections scheduled for May 14, some concerns are palpable among politicians, government officials, Nepal watchers and media here, with most of them voicing for bringing the agitating Madhes-based parties on board for the successful conduct of the polls. 

The Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) has rejected the new constitution amendment bill registered by the government on Tuesday and decided to boycott May polls.
Politicians and officials, however, refrained from making formal comments on the decision taken by the Madhes-based parties to boycott polls and recent political developments in Nepal. “It is not appropriate to comment on the recent political developments in Nepal. I am hopeful that the Nepali people will make right decisions about their future,” said Tarun Bijaya, a leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. 
Some newspapers, however, have made their viewpoints clear, suggesting the need for “a compromise between Kathmandu and Madhes” to avert any political crisis.
The Hindu on its Thursday’s editorial “Nepal amendment to constitution: Another crisis” suggested that Nepal should go for polls only after addressing the demands of the Madhes-based parties. 
“Local elections are seen as a way to allow for a much-needed administrative presence everywhere, but this cannot happen without the participation of all political forces, especially Madhes. The government has its task cut out to manage a compromise,” the Hindu wrote. “The impasse on the state restructuring issue has given rise to disturbing trends—jingoism, that sees Madhesi concerns as reflecting the interests of external actors such as India, and voices of secessionism among Madhesi forces who suggest that the Nepali polity is incapable of addressing the plain-dwellers’ concerns.” “Some give and take is the only way out of Nepal’s constitutional impasse,” it suggested.
The Pioneer, an English daily close to the BJP, on its Friday’s editorial termed the Madhes-based parties’ decision to boycotts May elections “a bad omen for the sustenance of peace and vibrant democracy in Nepal”.

Calling for resolving “Madhesi-Kathmandu confrontation”, the paper said “the Madhesi groups are not going to rest with the boycott of this one election; they will seek to disrupt other, bigger ones too”, indicating the need of urgency to resolve the crisis at the earliest. The paper has a word of advice for New Delhi as well--that India needs to “tread with care”. 
“For India, the events [in Nepal] are worrisome. It cannot remain unaffected by turmoil from across a border that is an open one. Its links with Nepal has history which cannot be negated.”
Stating that India “cannot take sides” between the Madhesis and the Pushpa Kamal Dahal regime, the editorial wrote: “During KP Oli’s tenure as prime minister and the blockade too, anti-India feelings had reached a high in Nepal.  If there is a Madhesi-Kathmandu confrontation yet again, there are elements within Nepal who will accuse New Delhi for the situation.”
Against this backdrop, President Bidya Devi Bhandari is paying a five-day state visit to India beginning Monday. Apart from a meeting with her Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee, President Bhandari’s engagements in New Delhi include talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior ministers and political actors. 
Indian observers say it is purely a goodwill visit of the Nepali President but believe that she might carry Delhi’s political message back home and that’s why “the visit and the message will be very crucial”.

Published: 15-04-2017 08:14

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