President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday held talks with his Nepalese counterpart Bidya Devi Bhandariand other top leaders to strengthen Indo-Nepal relations that had been strained over the issue of promulgation of the new Constitution. Mukherjee who is in Nepal for a 3-day state visit has recently said Nepal can look at India's experience of Constitution making but it is for Kathmandu to decide if any lessons can be drawn from it.
Mukherjee, who earlier arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal for a three-day state visit -- the first by an Indian President in 18 years, told his Nepalese counterpart Bidya Devi Bhandari that Nepal can "look at Indian experience at Constitution making but it is for Nepal to draw lessons from it," Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said.
Mukherjee also appreciated that Constitution amendment process has progressed in Nepal, Jaishankar told. Confirming that the issue of Nepalese Constitution was discussed during Mukherjee's meeting with Bhandari, Jaishankar said, "Essentially what the President said during these meetings was look at India's experience. India's experience was to take an inclusive approach towards Constitution making and to carry all sections of the population and that this is a painstaking process.
"It takes a lot of effort, it takes a lot of debate, it takes a lot of consultation." The promulgation of the Constitution last year had led to a strain in ties with Madhesis, who are largely of Indian-origin, leading to a nearly six-month-long protest over better representation in the Parliament and the federal structure of the new Constitution.
Their blockade had caused strain in bilateral ties, with Kathmandu accusing New Delhi of imposing an "unofficial blockade" which India had categorically denied.
Jaishankar said India is supportive of the proposed amendments in the Constitution to meet the grievances of a section of population which perhaps feel their interests are not being fully taken care of. "As a neighbour, as a well wisher, as a unique partner what we are saying is this is our experience please look at it and if you feel there are lessons to be drawn that is something the Nepali side needs to reflect on," Jaishankar quoted President Mukherjee as saying during his meetings with Nepali leaders.
Nepal had adopted a democratic Constitution in September 2015 in which four major demands of Madhesis--seats in the Parliament based on population, their representation in government proportional to their population, provincial demarcation, and equal citizenship for women marrying Nepali men were not included, he said.