India hails local polls, wishes for statute implementationExpressing his happiness at the holding of two phases of local level elections in Nepal, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advised Nepal to focus on implementation of the constitution in consultation with various sections of the Nepali society.
Expressing his happiness at the holding of two phases of local level elections in Nepal, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advised Nepal to focus on implementation of the constitution in consultation with various sections of the Nepali society.
Modi made the remarks during a joint press conference on Thursday in Hyderabad House, New Delhi, after the delegation level talks with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.
“The prime minister of India appreciated the efforts being made by the government of Nepal to take all sections of society on board in constitution implementation process and in establishing Nepal as a federal, democratic republic,” a joint statement issued on Thursday evening summed up Modi’s remarks.
Though the Indian PM did not mention constitution amendment at the joint press conference, PM Deuba assured the Indian side that constitution amendment would happen once Parliament has the required numbers in its favour. The issue of amendments would continue although it failed during a vote in Parliament, Deuba said.
“To address the demands of people living in the south, we had initiated the amendment process but we could not make it this time,” Deuba said. “In order to make it broad based and to meet the demands of the people from the south, east and north, we will continue to push the amendments.”
Nepali officials, however, were taken aback by Deuba’s statement going beyond the prepared speech. “There was no need to commit to constitution amendment as it had already failed and India is now concerned over implementation of the constitution rather than its amendment,” they said.
Nepali officials have interpreted Modi’s message for implementing the constitution taking various sections of the society on board may be seen as a gradual policy departure of India on Nepal’s new constitution that the southern neighbour has had reservations over two years.
“The tone and tenor have been shifting. It is difficult for a nation like India to change its policy overnight which they are doing gradually,” said Dinesh Bhattarai, foreign policy adviser to PM Deuba.
Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, however, said, “Our position has been very clear and consistent, which is efforts should be made to take all sections of society on board the constitution implementation process and in establishing Nepal as a federal democratic republic.”
India had been pressing for constitution amendments, urging Nepal’s leadership to make it broad based to accommodate the aspirations of disgruntled sections such as Madhesis and Janajatis.
The Indian PM also raised the issue of defence and security. Modi told the joint press conference, “Cooperation in defence and security is an important aspect of our partnership. Our security interests are also interdependent and interlinked with each other. Close cooperation between our defence and security agencies is important to control the misuse of our open border and for the security of our people.”
In a separate media briefing, Foreign Secretary Jaishankar later said the issue of security came up in many bilateral discussions.
During the delegation level talks, the two sides discussed a wide range of issues including reviewing past accords and recent floods in Nepal.
In the meeting, PM Deuba urged the Indian side not to stop the natural flow of water by means of dams while in case of construction of any structure in the border area, consent of the Nepali side is a must. Both sides agreed to set up a high-level panel to find a durable solution to floods.
In particular, Modi hailed some of the India-funded projects in Nepal such as cross-border transmission line, construction of Arun III hydroelectricity project, and integrated check posts. “PM Deuba and I agree to execute India-funded hydroelectricity projects in Nepal by setting a deadline,” said Modi.
Timeline for completing energy-related projects
Two sides will set a timeline for completing energy-related projects including the detailed project report of the Pancheshawr Hydro-electricity Project. “The two prime ministers have urged us to complete the DPR of Pancheshwar project by the end of this year,” Energy Secretary Anup Kumar Upadhyay told the Post. “New deadlines will be set for all India-funded projects in Nepal,” he said. A new cross-border trading guideline proposed by India did not prominently figure in meeting, he added.
Bhattarai said PM Deuba offered to seek a long-term solution to floods in Nepal caused by India’s embankments, inundation on the Nepali side and early finalisation of the Pancheshwar DPR. On flood management, Modi said India was ready to seek long term solutions while strengthening coordination and consultation on flood control in the bordering areas.
Modi expressed his happiness at the completion of land acquisition for Arun III hydroelectric project while Deuba had invited him to Nepal to lay the foundation stone for the project. The Indian PM said Delhi would back establishment of a new polytechnic institute in Dhangadi and setting up GP Koirala National Centre for Respiratory Diseases in Tanahun. Modi also proposed constructing Buddha and Ramayan circuits involving particular places in Nepal and India.
Deuba assured India that Nepal would work as a trustworthy friend of New Delhi. “Under the ambit of Saarc and Bimstec, we discussed a wide range of issues,” he said.
Deuba also had meetings on Thursday with Indian President Ram Nath Kovid, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and opposition leaders Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.
Doklam did not feature in talks: India foreign secy
New Delhi: Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar has said the current India-China standoff did not feature in the talks with the Nepali side. Asked whether the issue of India and China came up in the meeting, Jaishankar said, “It did not.” Responding to a separate question whether the Doklam issue was discussed during Wednesday’s meeting between Deuba and Modi, the Indian Foreign Secretary said, “In both meetings, that of yesterday and today, the issue did not feature.” (PR)