Indian Parliamentary Session on Situation of Nepal and State of Indo-Nepal Relations

Indian parliamentarians held a detailed session in the upper house of the Parliament of India on the situation of Nepal and state of Indo-Nepal relations on December 7, 2015. This was in response to the deteriorating situation in Nepal  after the new Nepal Constitution 2072 allegedly  failed to live up to the aspirations of the marginalized Madhesis and Indigenous Population in Nepal. The ongoing Civil Unrest led by Madhesi people in the southern Nepal, home to half of the total population, has lasted for more than three months and resulted in violent killing of more than 48 protesters and 9 police officers.

The speakers included several Parliamentarians including some distinguished leaders from the Government led BJP and the opposition party. They expressed their concerns on the developing situation and had a general consensus that the situation is counterproductive to Nepal, India and the Nepal-India relation. Indian Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, followed up with conclusive remarks clarifying the allegation pointed towards India and emphasizing on the urgency and cohesive efforts within Nepal to resolve the political uprising. She also extended India’s mediation, if necessary, and provided hopeful assurance that the impasse would be resolved within a week. Here is a quick summary of what was tabled and final remarks by the Indian Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Dr. Karan Singh, Senior Member of Opposition Indian National Congress –  Dr Karan Singh expressed deep concerns on  the  sufferings caused by the civil unrest. He emphasized that the suffering is not limited only to the people of Nepal but also to the people of India who share economical, geographical, social and cultural ties for ages. He alarmed the parliament about the growing anti-Indian feeling being promoted in Nepal. As a senior politician involved in the diplomatic mission to Nepal and as an Envoy of Manmohan Singh to King Gyanendra during the greater Civil Movement April 2006 , he recalled India’s involvement in mediation that resulted in King Gyanendra to hand over power to the 7 party alliance. He mentioned a long history of internal conflicts in Nepal that potentially spills over India’s long (1700 km) national border along 5 different Indian States. He reiterated India’s offer of any assistance required to the Nepal government in peaceful resolution of the ongoing civil unrest. Dr Karan Singh requested clarification from Indian Government on their actions to facilitate channeling supplies to the landlocked nation Nepal.

Senior JD(U) Leader Sharad Yadav urged to heal the declining Indo-Nepal relation accentuating on deep rooted relations between citizens of India and Nepal referring to the Roti-Beti relationship. He stressed the importance of bringing a resolution to the current political civil unrest internally by Nepal and offer any assistance required to defuse the humanitarian crisis immediately.

Other lawmakers mentioned the proportionate representation of Madhesi should be honored according to the people’s movement. They expressed that Madhesis are further marginalized by the new constitution in recognition to the genuine reasons of the Civil unrest in Nepal.

Ministry of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj ,responded to the calling-attention motion at the end of the session. She conveyed that shortcoming of Constitution and regression from the previous Interim Constitution has further marginalized Madhesi population. The general resentment among Madhesi population has resulted in Civilian unrest in Nepal that has brought extreme hardship among people of Nepal. She refuted to the allegations by some lawmakers and Nepalese media about accusation of Indian Government behind the border blockade. She presented facts that there are currently 11,000 supply trucks in the border point – Raxaul-India, the largest border transportation points, unable to transit because of the ongoing civil unrest in the southern Nepal caused by Madhesis. In response to the reports of acute medicine shortage, she claimed that the Indian Government facilitated 400 trucks loaded with medicine that was rerouted through other transit points. She invalidated the claims of nominated parliamentarian Mani Shankar Aiyar note of deliberate blockade by India and claims of acute shortage of lifesaving supplies including fuel and medicine to Nepal. She informed the parliament that India offered the deputy prime minister Kamal Thapa to provide a list of medicine that India will air lift to Nepal to alleviate the medicine shortage. She claimed that India has still not heard anything back from him on that. She emphasized that the special Nepal-India ties of multiple facets such as cultural, geographical and economic which makes Nepal a top priority for India in extending any assistance needed at the time of needs.

Sushma Swaraj  recalled India’s quick assistance after the recent tragic Earthquake calamity that included relief package of IRS 12,000 crores and Indian Army Rescue Missions as seen as “elder brother attitude”, not a “big brother attitude”. She talked of the high level Indian diplomatic engagement in the the process of promulgation of constitution from a long time ever since India provided help in mediation of peace treaty to bring Maoist in the mainstream and secession of Monarchy in Nepal.  She acknowledged the concerns made by the lawmakers on the developing situation in Nepal and the growing anti-Indian sentiments propagated by certain sections of society could have serious implication on India-Nepal relationship. She recognized the urgency to resolve the situation from further escalation to a peaceful resolution. Lastly, she provided assurance that Indian Government is willing to send political multi party diplomatic delegation to Nepal in a hope of facilitating peaceful resolution within a week.