Nepal’s Deputy PM arrives in India amid rising tension

RSTV Bureau
Kathmandu  :  Activists of the Madhesi group participate in a protest near the Constituent Assembly Hall in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015.  FIle Photo - PTI

Kathmandu : Activists of the Madhesi group participate in a protest near the Constituent Assembly Hall in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. FIle Photo – PTI

Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa arrived in India on Saturday evening. Thapa will be in India for the next two days.

Thapa’s visit comes at a time when India’s ties with Nepal have not been at its best. The visit comes in the backdrop of rising tensions between the neighbours over Nepal’s new constitution and the following blockade at key border points.

This is the first high level visit from Nepal after the new government took over last week. Thapa is expected to meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other senior government officials. At the meeting, India is likely to convey its concern over the continued unrest in Nepal.

“The visit will provide an opportunity to discuss all issues of mutual concern as well as review and further strengthen India-Nepal relations,” Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Vikas Swarup told reporters in New Delhi.

Thapa is also the coordinator of a three-member team formed by the Nepal government to hold talks with the Indian authorities to end blockade of key trade points by Indian- origin Madhesis. The Madhesis are opposed to splitting the country into seven provinces which is proposed in the new Constitution.

India has maintained that the long queues of freight trucks waiting to cross over to Nepal from Indian side were because of a “disruption on the Nepalese side of the border”. Nepal however has accused India of initiating an economic blockade.

Whenever the disruptions, or protests on the Nepalese side, have slightly eased, “we have tried to send supplies across the border,” said Swarup.

Nearly 2500 trucks are waiting on the Indian side, out of which 1500 – 2000 are at Raxaul and 750 at Sanauli – waiting to cross over, Swarup explained.

Kathmandu continues to allege that New Delhi has imposed an economic blockade on their country following the announcement of its new Constitution, which is being seen as against the interest of Indian-origin Madhesi community living in the Terai region of the Himalayan nation.

India, however, sees no merit in Nepal’s complaints.

(With inputs from PTI)