India was forced to change its policy towards Nepal under international criticism of a crippling blockade led by Madhesis due to which their months-long violent agitation fizzled out and lost relevance, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has said.
Presenting a 12-page political document during the ongoing CPN-UML party politburo meeting, party chairman Oli said that India changed its policy of supporting the Madhesi movement following international criticism during the ‘unofficial’ blockade imposed by it on Nepal resulting in disruption of supplies of essential goods.
The international community was critical of India’s approach to Nepal and exerted pressure on it, Oli said in his document.
“India, then, changed its policy as it could not sustain backing the Madhesis further,” he said.
The Madhesis, largely of Indian-origin, launched a violent agitation in September last year when the new Constitution was announced, saying the statute failed to address their concerns.
The Madhesi parties had led the six months-long agitation, mainly to protest against the seven-province federal model enshrined in the Constitution.
Nearly 60 people lost their lives during the agitation that also disrupted the supplies of petroleum products and cooking gas among other essentials to Nepal, leading to severe hardships to the people.
The major political parties had amended some provisions of the Constitution to address the demands of the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front, which rejected the move of the parties.
However in an unexpected development just before Oli’s maiden visit to India, the blockade ended in February without any political agreement.
But the political crisis has not ended yet and there has not been any discussion between the agitating Madhesis and the government. The Madhesis have lately warned of a fresh agitation from the Nepalese New Year that begins in mid-April.
“We will decide about the date and programmes of the future movement after we sit for a meeting in mid-April,” said Laxman Lal Karna, Vice president of Sadbhawana Party, a key member of the UDMF.
“The relevance of the movement will not end until and unless our demands regarding the rights and representation of the Madhesi people are properly addressed,” he told PTI.
To a question whether the relevance of the Madhesi movement has ended as India changed its policy, he said in sarcastic remarks: “Prime Minister Oli cannot change the policy of New Delhi.”
“Is it government of India or Prime Minister Oli who will change New Delhi’s policy?” he questioned. Meanwhile, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) has warned that Nepal is likely to witness fresh turmoil if the dissatisfaction over the Constitution is not addressed soon.