Sushma Swaraj proposes all-party delegation to end Nepal impasse

04 Dec 2015


External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday proposed to lead an all-party delegation to Nepal where a constitutional deadlock has badly affected relations with India after agitators in Nepal resorted to blocade of roads that in turn affected supplies of essentials from India.

Addressing members of the Lok Sabha on Thursday, the minister urged the house to consider a visit to Nepal by an all-party delegation. ''The government will be guided by the sentiments of the House,'' she said.

The external affairs minister also made it clear that India has not been blocking any supplies of essentials like oil to Nepal. On the contrary, she pointed out, it was Nepal that is blocking supplies from India.

Clarifying India's position on the constitutional deadlock in Nepal, Swaraj said that contrary to some canards on the issue, ''there is no blockade by India, which we have repeatedly clarified, of supplies going to Nepal. Obstructions are by the Nepalese population on the Nepalese side, in which GoI cannot interfere. There were incidents of violence resulting in death and injury in regions of Nepal bordering India following the promulgation of this Constitution. Our freight companies and transporters also voiced complaints about difficulties of movement and security within Nepal.''

In fact, she said, the Indian government has facilitated supplies wherever possible. Several thousand trucks have remained stranded for weeks, waiting on the Indian side of the border crossings. We have kept them there to respond quickly if the blockages on the Nepal side are peacefully lifted.

The primary crossing of Raxaul-Birgunj, which accounts for two-thirds of our trade, remains closed from the Nepali side for more than two months. However, every day, several hundred cargo trucks have still been passing through those crossing points that are open and available.

And, she said, despite constraints, Indian Oil Corporation has delivered POL supplies to the extent possible. More than 400 medical consignments were cleared through the India-Nepal border in November 2015. We are also assisting in re-routing stranded POL tankers and vehicles carrying medical supplies through other available crossing points, as also airlift. But there are also logistical constraints and the best remedy remains a political solution leading to the end of the agitation.

Swraj said she had another ''good'' meeting with the visiting deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Nepal, Kamal Thapa. ''He assured me that there has been progress in the dialogue on the contentious issues with the agitating parties.

''This gives us hope that an early resolution would be found for the political problems facing Nepal. We will continue to encourage all sides to come to a solution sooner rather than later.

''The causes underlying the present state of confrontation in Nepal need to be addressed credibly and effectively by the political parties and people of Nepal themselves. India's only interest is in a peaceful, united and stable Nepal. And our approach to the present crisis is completely consistent with these objectives. There has also been the broadest goodwill for Nepal in India and full political consensus on our policy.

She urged the house to consider a visit to Nepal by an all-party delegation. The government will be guided by the sentiments of the House, she said.

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