India asks Nepal to amend its Constitution
Outrageous interference in Nepal’s affairs
By Faraz Ahmad
Has Nepal become the 30th Indian state? Isn’t Nepal a sovereign country? Do we have any right or business to tell Nepal how they should frame their Constitution and what should be deleted from it? Are we contemplating doing a Sikkim on Nepal now?
The impunity with which the Government of India has gone about dictating to Nepal to effect not one, not two, but seven amendments to its Constitution is not just untenable but downright shocking and a blatant interference in the affairs of our sovereign neighbour.
And what is the crux of these amendments? That the Madhesis, primarily Indian settlers from Bihar and Eastern UP, living in the South-Eastern districts of Nepal, be made to decide the laws and governance of Nepal. The Madhesis, though not originally Nepalis want to hold the levers of power in Nepal and have their men like President Ram Baran Yadav rule the hill nation. We haven’t granted this to the Gorkhas settled in Darjeeling. For decades the Gorkhas settlers of Darjeeling have been demanding a separate state of their own, within the Indian Union but that is unacceptable to the Indians. Ever so often the BJP raises a hue and cry that people from Bangladesh have come and settled in Assam registered themselves as voters and influence the voting pattern and wants to undo this by striking down IDMT Act, 1983 which seeks to protect minorities in Assam who have not migrated from Bangladesh. But when it comes to Nepal we want the fast multiplying Indian settlers from Bihar and Eastern UP (Mind you there is no passport or any permit to regulate the to and fro traffic between India and Nepal) to numerically overwhelm the true descendants of the hill state by their sheer numbers.
The new Nepali constitution has barred certain top public offices like that of the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of Nepal, the Speaker of Parliament, the Chairperson of the National Assembly, chief ministers and speakers of provincial assemblies and the chief of security bodies to naturalized citizens and reserved these only to those who are Nepalis by descent. It is amazing that the proposal has gone from the External Affairs ministry, headed by Sushma Swaraj. One wonders whether she recalls how she had threatened to get her head shaved and sleep only on the floor as a form of protest post 2004 general elections which brought the UPA to power, if Sonia Gandhi were to become the Prime Minister of India. Why? Because even though Sonia has spent the greater part of her life in India, she happened to be born in Italy.
Nepal is not the only country which wants only a true Nepali to rule the nation. I remember soon as the NDA lost the 2004 elections, the Sanghis led by the current Chairman of Prasar Bharti, A Surya Prakash held a meeting of like-minded Sanghi hacks in Bengali Market, presumably in The Pioneer School of Journalism then situated there to mobilise public opinion and not just express outrage but agitate to prevent Sonia becoming the Prime Minister. But today India has the gumption to tell Nepal to let the Madhesi settlers, larger in numbers, to govern Nepal by suitably amending its Constitution.