Nepal ‘regrets’ Bihar leader’ statements of support for Madhesis

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: Feb 03, 2016 18:36 IST
RJD chief Lalu Prasad interacted with Madhesi activists from Nepal, in Patna. (PTI Photo)

Nepal has criticised reported statements by politicians in Bihar showing solidarity with Madhesi leaders, who are protesting against the Himalayan nation’s new constitution.

The foreign ministry said the remarks about “inherently internal issues” were “provocative and uninformed” of ground realities and do not serve the interests of the two neighbours.

“The government of Nepal expresses deep regrets over such statements. They are not helpful in the ongoing efforts aimed at normalising the situation,” said a statement from the foreign ministry.

“The government of Nepal urges all to exercise restraint from making statements that may seriously undermine relations between the two countries and peoples,” it added.

Leaders of the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), the group comprising four Madhes-based parties, met senior Bihar politicians recently in an effort to drum up support for their protests.

Several Indian leaders, including Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad Yadav, reportedly expressed support to the Madhesi leaders. The UDMF leaders also met senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushil Modi.

Madhesis or residents of Nepal’s southern Terai plains bordering India have been protesting against the new constitution since last August, saying it is discriminatory.

They have rejected constitutional amendments carried out last month and are seeking fresh demarcation of federal states, proportional representation in all state bodies and a package deal to address their 11 demands.

Differences have cropped up among UDMF constituents on continuing with a blockade of key border points with India. The blockade has resulted in a severe shortage of essential goods, medicines and fuel.

Despite India’s denials, Kathmandu has accused New Delhi of imposing an unofficial blockade to support the Madhesis.

Several rounds of talks failed to resolve the deadlock and the UDMF is now mulling the creation of a “grand alliance” with four other parties in the Terai region to increase pressure on the government to address its demands.

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