Shirish B Pradhan


Nepal Maoist chief Prachanda sought to allay India’s concerns that his party was strongly anti-Indian, but underlined that the two countries need to redefine the ‘unequal’ accords of the past given the dramatic changes of the past few years.


On the second say of her three-day visit, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao met the Maoist chairman who also told her that his party was committed to honour the agreements signed in line with the peace process in Nepal. Rao went to Prachanda’s residence at Nayabazaar on the outskirts of Kathmandu to meet the former prime minister this evening as she intensified consultations with top leaders of Nepal.


Her visit comes at a time when Nepal’s political parties are struggling to bring the tottering peace process on track. The Maoist chief told media persons after the meeting that he also assured Rao that his party is committed to fully abide by the peace agreements signed in the past including the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.


During the meeting the Maoist leader also sought to dispel the view that his party maintains an anti-India stance. Prachanda has often blamed India for interfering in the affairs of Nepal and has demanded that the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty and other “unequal treaties” with India be scrapped.


The Maoist chief had also described India as its principal enemy in his political paper at a party conclave last year. During the meeting, Prachanda also said that the two countries need to redefine the past agreements and accords in line with the changed circumstances.


In response to Rao’s question regarding the fate of the Maoist combatants after the exit of the United Nations’ mission in the country, Prachanda told her that the former combatants will come under the purview of a special committee comprising members of all major political parties that is responsible for monitoring of the arms and the armies.


Rao earlier held consultations with top leaders of major political parties, including Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala and former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. During her meetings with the leaders, Rao enquired about the state of the peace process following the exit of the UN mission and about matters relating to army integration and drafting of the constitution. She said India wants peace, stability and progress to prevail in Nepal, underlining the need for all political parties to set aside differences and come together to resolve the stalemate.


Rao was scheduled to meet CPN-UML president Jhalan Nath Khanal later in the evening. She is also expected to meet Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala before wrapping up the three day visit tomorrow. Rao had yesterday met President Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, and Parliament speaker Subhash Nemwang on the first day of her official visit.


During her meeting with Prime Minister Nepal, Rao had conveyed India’s strong support to a satisfactory culmination of the peace process and strengthening of multi party democracy in Nepal. Nepal is locked in a political crisis for over a year and its peace process is in tatters as it struggles to get over political and ideological differences between major parties who were elected to the Constituent Assembly in 2008 in the landmark elections that marked the country’s transition from a monarchy to a parliamentary republic.


The Constituent Assembly that was tasked with drafting a constitution has failed to make any progress and the peace process remains stalled. Nepal has also failed to elect a new prime minister following the resignation of Nepal, with 16 rounds of inconclusive polls in the parliament, further hampering the peace process.


(Kathmandu, January 19, 2011)

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