While expressing sorrow at the loss of lives at the violence in Nepal on Monday and extending his condolences, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told his Nepali counterpart Sushil Koirala that 'five to ten people' cannot 'sit in a room' and 'impose a Constitution' and called for greater inclusion in the process.
In western Nepal's Kailali district, violence broke out on Monday when Tharu protestors, demanding a federal state, turned aggressive. Six police officials were killed. Nepal is in the final lap of its constitutional process. It has been witnessing protests over the shape of the federal map with excluded social groups, Madhesis and Tharus in the plains bordering India, agitating for boundaries that would empower them and grant greater rights.
Top sources from Kathmandu told HT, on the strict condition of anonymity, that PM Modi was deeply sad at the violence given his affinity for Nepal. But he also reiterated his earlier position that there must be the widest possible consultation as Nepal finalises its Constitution. There is a realisation in the government that this has been a top driven process, which has not taken into account the views of diverse social and political groups on the ground.
Modi is understood to have asked Koirala to reach out to dissenters, "Five to ten people cannot sit in a room and write the constitution. All parties and forces should sit together. There must be greater dialogue."
There is also disappointment in Delhi at being dragged into the matter. Nepal's home minister Bamdev Gautam indicated in Parliament on Monday that there was a foreign conspiracy. According to sources, Modi made it clear that it was inappropriate for Nepal's leadership to drag in India and this would not help matters - it was also Nepal's domestic issue. Given the open border though, India - an official statement about the conversation said - 'would do all it can for security in Nepal'.
The statement also said that Modi has reiterated that the 'political leadership of Nepal should resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue between all political parties and through the process of widest possible consultation, including with the public' and arrive at a solution which accommodated the 'aspirations of all citizens of a richly diverse society within a united, peaceful, stable and prosperous Nepal'.