Maoists ask Prachanda to raise thorny issues during India trip

September 8th, 2008 - 7:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Sep 8 (IANS) Nepal’s ruling Maoist party has asked Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” not to waste time on touristy things during his India visit from Sunday but to plunge headfast into thorny issues between the two neighbours, including the damage wreaked by the Kosi river and their contentious Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950.”We have asked him not to waste time visiting Shantivan, garlanding Mahatma Gandhi’s statue or visiting the Red Fort,” senior Maoist leader and the party’s foreign affairs chief C.P. Gajurel said Monday.

“Nepali people have high expectations of this visit. The government has to address the Kosi crisis and other thorny issues.”

The central committee of the party has a three-pronged political agenda for Prachanda when he makes his first “political trip” to India after assuming office last month.

High on it is the 1950 treaty that the Maoists want scrapped.

“The treaty leaves no room for revision,” Gajurel said. “It can only be scrapped. And that can happen if the two partners agree on it or one country takes a unilateral decision and gives the other a year’s notice.”

However, Prachanda will not serve the one-year notice on India during his visit, Gajurel said.

“We also want to hear India’s point of view,” the Maoist legislator said.

The underground party that India helped return to mainstream politics also wants Prachanda to discuss boundary disputes with New Delhi.

Out of Nepal’s 75 districts, 26 adjoin India and in 21 of them, there are areas under dispute.

Nepal’s 1,880-km open boundary with India was defined on the basis of rivers. Over time, the rivers changed their course, leading to boundary disputes.

Though both countries agreed to resolve the disputes through negotiation and draw a fresh boundary, the work has been delayed by political turmoil in Nepal.

Gajurel also said that Prachanda has to take up the issue of what he termed as growing Indian intervention in Nepal’s internal matters.

“We don’t expect a resolution immediately,” the Maoist leader said. “But Prachanda has to take up these issues.”

The Kosi pact signed in 1954 will come under discussion propelled by the devastating flood this monsoon that left over three million homeless in India’s Bihar and over 100,000 in Nepal.

“Indian authorities were asked to open the gates of the Kosi barrage when the water level started rising,” Gajurel said. “But they didn’t, resulting in havoc in both countries.”

The Maoists want Prachanda to tell India that any future barrage plans have to be scrutinised to ensure they do not cause destruction. They are also asking for India to pay compensation for the havoc created in Nepal.

Along with Kosi, other controversial river pacts like the Mahakali treaty will also have to come under review, the Maoists have said.

However, Nepal’s main opposition party, former premier Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress (NC), said it doubted if Prachanda would pay heed to his party’s demands.

“When people sit in opposition, they say one thing, when they are in power, they say something else,” NC leader and former foreign minister of state Prakash Sharan Mahat said.

The NC is gunning for Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav, who visited India recently.

“After his return, the minister said the 1950 treaty shouldn’t be scrapped,” Mahat said. “How could he have said that without the prime minister’s approval?”

The NC is asking for an all-party meet before Prachanda’s departure so that there is consensus on his agenda.

“We need mature and responsible policies which would serve the nation and not just the Maoist party,” Mahat said.

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