Ahead of Nepalese Prime Minister KP Oli’s maiden visit to India next month, the Nepalese government has proposed a four-member team to review the existing bilateral agreements with India.
The four-member Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) will also review the strategic Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950 that was inked between India and Nepal.
The four names proposed by the government include Former Finance Minister and former Nepalese Ambassador to India Bhesh Bahadur Thapa, former chief of the Commission for Investigation Authority Surya Nath Upadhyaya, former UN Assistant Secretary General Kul Chandra Gautam and CPN-UML lawmaker Rajan Bhattarai.
On Wednesday, the EPG was proposed during a cabinet meeting but no formal decision was taken to this effect, Minister for Information and Communication Sherdhan Rai said. The next cabinet meeting is expected to take a formal decision in the matter, Rai explained.
The EPG is likely to get two years to come up with a comprehensive report on things that need to be amended in all bilateral treaties.
The 1950 India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship allows free movement of people and goods between the two nations and a close relationship and collaboration on matters of defence and foreign policy.
PM Oli is set to visit India in the second week of February. The visit comes at a time when there is great unease between India and Nepal over the blockade in the Himalayan country enforced by Madhesi people.
The ongoing Madhesi blockade is over the newly drafted Constitution in Nepal. Madhesis, who share strong cultural and family bonds with Indians, have imposed a general strike in several parts of South Nepal, causing a shortage of fuel and other essential goods.
Madhesi leaders are protesting since August 2015 over the over “discriminatory” nature of the new Constitution. They have now submitted 11 demands to the Nepal government on which discussions are on. Their demands include re-demarcation of the provinces, fixing of electoral constituencies on the basis of population and proportional representation, among other things.
The new EPG proposed by the Nepalese government came into being after the Third Joint Commission Meeting of Nepal and India in July 2014. The joint commission meet in Kathmandu had decided to set up the EPG with four members from each side at the request of Nepal. The decision was also endorsed by PM Narendra Modi during his visit to Nepal last year.
(With inputs from PTI)