Nepal adopts secular constitution; India concerned

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As celebrations broke out in Nepal over the adoption of the new democratic secular Constitution from a monarchy, India responded with an angry statement, pointing to the protests in the Terai against the Constitution.

A statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said India was “concerned that the situation in several parts of the country bordering India continues to be violent.” (due to the violent state of affairs in Nepal).

It may be noted work on the constitution began in 2008 after the Maoists won parliamentary polls and abolished the monarchy. The Nepali Congress, UML and Maoist parties finally reached a pact in June.

India continued, “We urge that issues on which there are differences should be resolved through dialogue in an atmosphere free from violence and intimidation, and institutionalised in a manner that would enable broad-based ownership and acceptance.”

Any political turbulence and violence in Nepal will have an adverse impact on poll-bound Bihar. This is the main reason why foreign secretary S Jaishankar, as the PM’s envoy had rushed to Kathmandu recently.

The main problem for India — Madhesis have reacted violently to Nepal’s new constitution. They along with Tharus, form the bulk of population of Terai, which forms one-fifth of Nepal’s landmass and accounts for half of Nepal’s population. The Madhesis have been fighting for equal representation and the new constitution, according to them, has failed to meet their aspirations.

Also, in what is being considered as a big headache for India is that China has come forward to welcome Nepal’s new constitution.

Meanwhile, There are three problems that prevent India from welcoming the document (new consitution). To begin with, the federal-provincial demarcation is perceived as unfair to the people of the Terai region; secondly, the delimitation is skewed against the Madhesi population. While the Pahadi (Hill) community gets 100 seats, the Madhesi and the Janjatis get only 65 seats.

There has also been opposition from some quarters, including Hindu groups, who don’t believe Nepal should be a secular state. Protestors said that it does too little to empower minorities, and many took to Twitter to voice their disapproval under the hashtag #notmyconstitution.

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