It’s running out of gasoline.
In a breakthrough, Nepal’s Indian-origin Madhesis, protesting division of their ancestral homeland in the new Constitution, on Monday agreed to hold talks with the government from Tuesday to find a political solution to the unrest that has claimed over 40 lives. Hours after the constitution was passed, the violence escalated.
Hundreds of trucks with shipments including medicine, gasoline and cooking fuel had been stranded at the border citing security concerns due to the ongoing Madhes agitation against the new Constitution. By Thursday afternoon, nothing more had moved.
Asserting that India had assured Nepal’s leadership that the situation will be resolved “at the earliest”, Nepalese ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyay was quoted as telling news agency PTI in an interview, “They (India) should give a timeframe.
“We feel no declaration has been made (about the blockade)”. This is our right. India has rejected as “totally false” allegations that it blockaded a key trade checkpoint on the border with Nepal. “The Indian government representatives say it is not their policy (but the) security officers (from the Indian side) have said that they have instructions from the central government not to allow vehicles into Nepal“, Gautam said.
Nepal obtains most of its fuel and other vital supplies from India. Many Nepalese, however, have accused India of blocking supplies to show its disapproval of the document. Months after India’s overwhelming support to Nepal during the quake, and a year after PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Kathmandu in August last year, bilateral ties are deteriorating faster than anyone expected. “India has chosen to speak for one community [Madhesis] and for seven or eight districts of Nepal, when the country has 75”. Finally, when New Delhi realised that Nepal was close to framing a Constitution that was not fully inclusive and did not address aspirations of several sections of Nepali society, it opted to intervene.
But the warmth generated from India’s recent overtures appears to have chilled, and an irritated Nepal pushed back against what it saw as coercive diplomacy.
The first session of Parliament after the adoption of the constitution started on Friday.
Nepal’s parliament will now come up with a new plan for the election of the prime minister within a week, if consensus among the major political parties is achieved.
He called the blockade “very sad” and attributed it to exaggerated reports of dissatisfaction “among a few small political parties and leaders”.
But more worrisome than the prospect of civil strife consuming Nepal, is the fear that India will be isolated in parts of the Himalayan kingdom where the Madhesis and Tharus are not in dominant numbers.