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Never branded India as principal enemy: Bhattarai

world Updated: Jan 13, 2011 12:16 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times
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Rebutting media reports, a senior leader of Nepal's opposition Maoist party on Thursday clarified that his party has never branded India as the Himalayan nation's principal enemy.

Terming it as misinterpretation, Maoist party vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai said his party is willing to address all issues with India including the southern neighbour's security concerns.

"Our party feels sections of ruling classes in both countries are principal obstacles or contradictions against progress in Nepal. We oppose these elements," Bhattarai told journalists from Indian media.

Viewed as an India-sympathizer within his party, Bhattarai's statement comes after a four-day trip to New Delhi last week where he met number of senior ministers of the UPA government.

The interactions, Bhattarai feels, have helped thaw the chill in relations between Indian political leadership and Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Nepal's largest party in parliament.

Ever since stepping down from power in 2009, Maoists have been accusing India of interfering in Nepal's internal affairs and preventing the party from regaining power.

The senior Maoist leader flew to Mumbai on Thursday where he will deliver the 3rd Anuradha Ghandy memorial lecture. Ghandy is the deceased wife of jailed Indian Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy.

"In Nepal there is a tendency to view relations with India with suspicion and also to raise anti-Indian nationalism to further sectarian interests. We are against both tendencies," he said.

Stressing on need for support from India and China to consolidate democratic gains in Nepal, Bhattarai said that UCPN (M) would "continue on the path of peace and democracy".

"We understand India's legitimate security concerns due to the open border. We need to talk and have a regulated border by changing provisions of the 1950 peace treaty," he stated.

Commenting on formation of the next government, he suggested that the first option should be for a consensus-based government led by Maoists.

"If that fails, someone neutral and acceptable to all can lead the government," Bhattarai opined.

With Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel withdrawing from the prime ministerial poll on Wednesday, a fresh process to elect the next PM will start soon and Bhattarai is in contention for the post.