While recognising the new Nepali constitution as an “important achievement”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told visiting Nepali Prime Minister KP Oli that its success depends on “consensus and dialogue”. He also hoped that Nepal would achieve peace and stability by “resolving all constitutional issues”, through “political dialogue” and by taking “all sections of the people” together. In turn, PM Oli said “misunderstandings” with India have now been cleared.
The remarks of the two leaders come in the backdrop of troubled ties with Nepal. The statute left the Madhesi population, who waged an agitation and blocked the border, dissatisfied disrupting bilateral ties.
By making India his first port of call after taking charge, Oli – Indian officials believe – has sent a signal that Nepal recognizes the value of the relationship with India. This assumes importance given the perception of a rise in ‘anti-India sentiment’ in Kathmandu. Accompanied by a high-powered delegation which includes Nepal’s foreign, finance and home minister, Oli said, “My meeting with PM Modi has been useful and productive… misunderstandings have been cleared.” India too made it a state visit and hosted Oli at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
But in a sign that there is still political distance to be covered, and the difference in emphasis, Oli referred to the constitution as ‘historic’ and did not mention the issue of existing Madhesi grievances.
Briefing reporters, foreign secretary S Jaishankar said PM Modi “expressed hope that all political parties would come together in a spirit of consensus and dialogue and successfully resolve remaining constitutional issues in a time-bound manner”. He said that India hopes that assurances which have been given about addressing grievances would be met – given that not addressing it could lead to instability.
The two countries signed a range of agreements - primarily to give shape to past commitments. An MoU was exchanged to determine the framework on how $250 million, the grant component of India’s post-earthquake reconstruction support, would be spent. Another agreement lays out a new modality for building road infrastructure in Tarai. The two PMs inaugurated the Muzaffarpur-Dhalkebar transmission line.
Meanwhile, Delhi-based Madhesi professionals and students protested against Oli on Friday evening. They were detained by Delhi Police and sent to judicial custody.