How has this snowballed to such a situation that India and Nepal both are holding grudges against each other?
I am so sad because I had come here with a different mission. I am not a career diplomat. A person from the socio-political field, I naturally mingle with leaders across political parties. Addressing Nepal’s parliament, PM Modi had spoken very high of bilateral ties. So I came here on the advice of my leaders that we should build upon the warmth. The irony is that I remained in dark. I have been asking myself the same question. See, India had always maintained that Nepal is free to make a constitution on its own. After all it is for Nepal to decide what it wants. I know the solutions too.
They (MEA, India) didn’t tell you anything?
No. Until it was too late, almost at the end, when special envoy (Foreign Secretary, S Jaishankar) was to visit. Otherwise, it might have been managed well. I have always believed that there is only one truth. There can never be two truths. If we speak the truth and follow a path of truth, the problem can be correctly diagnosed. The solution can also be found. The root of the problems. When arms struggle began in Nepal, India almost withdrew. Nepali delegations kept visiting India. But India didn’t send anybody to Nepal either at the political level or bureaucratic level. Not even a meeting was convened. Modiji changed everything. He not only infused personal energy into dynamics but also swung it to such a high level that Nepal was unable to match his brisk step and great expectations. Indo-Nepal entered into a new era.
What went wrong?
The elected representatives can’t be ignored. We can’t challenge either the mandate of CA. I am sad that it was not appreciated. However, both sides are in touch trying to undo an avoidable damage and misunderstanding. Human beings are blessed with a mind and conscience that can learn lessons from mistakes and correct itself. If Nepal has committed a mistake, it should realize. If India has committed a mistake, it should realize. Matter ends. A beautiful future beckons us both. Nepal is a wonder. Modiji had said it everywhere. Nepal is the only country where the terrorists, militants surrendered their arms on their own. Terrorism, fundamentalism has sapped trillions of dollars across the world.
How do you see the new constitution?
Whatever lacunae it finds in Nepal’s constitution, it will be corrected. Several laws need to be passed. Now constitution needs detailed studies, letter by letter, for a correct impression. A studied conclusion will then give a fair judgment, whatever that may be. No constitution is a Veda or Purna that can’t be amenable to amendments. We need to counsel such rampaging elements not to rock the boat now as are misled by hearsay. The rumor mongers have a field day. Denial of citizenship, under-representation etc..
That Madhesis, Tharu group are denied citizenship is false?
Absolutely false. Only a woman born on a foreign land but married to a Nepali is dis-entitled to top posts. It is an internationally followed practice. In any case, Nepal, a sovereign nation, is free to make its laws. A foreign man can naturally become a Nepali citizen after 15 years.
Are you in touch with Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar?
No. I am in touch with MEA but not with him (S Jaishankar) at the personal level. But when he visited Nepal as Modiji’s special envoy, whatever happened with him there was wrong because the special envoy was not just an envoy but the Government itself.
Did Nepal commit any mistake there?
From what I hear here, the special envoy was ignored when he arrived in Nepal. Or he may have felt slighted. Or he was not accorded as much importance as he may have expected. This is all, isn’t it?
It was also given a Chinese spin here. It was alleged to be done at China’s behest. Also that when India was busy rehabilitating Nepal, China was quietly manipulating Nepal’s policymakers and constitution process (into its favor) against India. What do you think is a correct view?
I have also read a few stories about it. There may be several groups of people in Nepal with different allegiances to different countries – whether it is US or China. The parties may be free to follow an opinion, in whichever direction or in favor of whichever country they like. But when it comes to walking the talk, no party in Nepal can do without India. India should also engage with a party, not an individual. It should appreciate political dynamics in Terai. No party will like to lose votes in politics. China’s influence is impossible. We are surrounded by India on three sides. What will China do? No one will work for impossibility. Why waste energy, time thinking about impossibility? I am ready for a debate. Nepal and India are linked heart to heart. No party in Nepal can change it.
It can still be sorted out.
I must solve. We shall. The God will also bless us with a shared destiny. We have shared present, past and future too. Sometimes I wonder if it is due to inauspicious planetary movements. It was just a bad day or a bad week. Nothing is to worry. Indo-Nepal ties will only improve before long.