Opposition Maoists in Nepal called off their proposed countrywide strike on Monday following a government decision to scrap the contract with India on supply of machine readable passports (MRPs).
The move came after the Madhav Kumar Nepal government decided late on Sunday evening to revoke the deal due to political pressure and questions raised by Public Accounts Committee on the manner in which the contract was awarded.
“The main reason for the strike was to protest the MRP deal with India. Since it has been scrapped, we called off the strike,” said Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, chairman, UCPN (Maoist).
He, however, stated that the parties would continue to press for the Prime Minister’s resignation and keep agitating for formation of a national government for timely completion of the constitution drafting process.
Maoists have taken umbrage at a letter written by Indian Ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood to Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala in December suggesting that awarding of MRP contract to India would help address security concerns in the Indo-Nepal border.
Since the foreign ministry cancelled bids by other companies to supply nearly four million MRPs and decided to award the contract to the Nashik-based Indian firm, Maoists argue that it compromised on Nepal’s security.
On Sunday, Sujata Koirala termed the scrapping of the deal with India as unfortunate and stated that it could affect bilateral relations between both countries.
Two separate petitions regarding the MRP contract are pending in Supreme Court as the government seems poised to call a global tender to award the contract to fresh bidders.