Nepal polls a step towards constitutional democracy: India

April 20th, 2008 - 7:44 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) India Sunday welcomed the outcome of the recent constituent assembly elections in Nepal as a step towards constitutional democracy. The first cautious welcome from the Prime Minister’s Office came with National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan terming the April 10 polls as a “step forward on the path of constitutional democracy”.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee congratulated Maoist leader Prachanda when he spoke to him by telephone last week. But no such message has yet been conveyed to the Maoist supremo from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Narayanan’s cautious comments on Nepal, at a seminar here, are significant as he had reportedly remarked earlier this month that India was only comfortable in dealing with the Nepali Congress.

The Nepal elections that threw up the Maoists as the largest political group, far ahead of their rivals the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxists-Leninists), surprised India and most other countries. However, the Indian external affairs ministry has already expressed its desire to work with the Maoists in Nepal.

But experts were of the opinion that it was as much the Maoists’ responsibility as India’s to ensure that the two sides develop a strong and sustainable relationship in the coming days.

“The Maoists will have to establish an inclusive political system that accommodates the aspirations of various groups in Nepal”, India’s former ambassador to Nepal K.V. Rajan said.

He noted that as the junior partner in the last interim government, the Maoists had made a number of demands and had succeeded in securing most of them.

“The Maoists will have to rely on other political parties to form the next government. And it can work successfully only if they show the maturity to accommodate the others,” Rajan said.

But there were some others who felt that the responsibility would have to be shared by the Maoists as well as the other political parties to ensure peace and stability in Nepal.

“New equations will have to be worked out by the political parties. A lot will depend on how much the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML have learnt from their past mistakes,” Deb Mukherjee, another former Indian ambassador to Nepal, said.

He felt that the major political parties will have to assure the Maoists of their willingness to work together for Nepal’s peace, prosperity and progress.

“If these political parties continue to play the role they have been playing in the past, then there will be a lot of grief for Nepal”, Mukherjee said.

The only way to avoid such a situation, he said, was for all the political parties to sit together and work out a sustainable arrangement in which all were a stakeholder in taking Nepal forward.

Mukherjee said India should also play a role in instilling the trust and confidence of the new government in Nepal. “India should continue to play a positive role in Nepal. It has to be a low-key approach but a positive one,” he said.

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