Lift 'undeclared blockade' on border: Nepal to India

India should lift the "undeclared blockade" of a key border trade point with Nepal as the people are facing severe hardships due to scarcity of essential goods like fuel and cooking gas, a veteran politician said on Thursday.

Kathmandu: India should lift the "undeclared blockade" of a key border trade point with Nepal as the people are facing severe hardships due to scarcity of essential goods like fuel and cooking gas, a veteran politician said on Thursday.

K P Oli, who is tipped to be the next prime minister, said: "We did not expect that a friendly country like India would do such thing to a sovereign country like Nepal."

"India should not impose undeclared blockade in the name of dissatisfaction expressed by a few political parties and some political leaders (on the new Constitution).

"It is affecting Nepalese life in a big way as not only transportation, our hospitals and schools are gradually being closed down due to the shortage of fuel," he said while talking to Kathmandu-based foreign media here.

"The industries are also being closed... What is the necessity for India being a close neighbour to take such drastic step? If there is some misunderstanding due to some misinformation, we are ready to clear," he said.

The 63-year-old CPN-UML Chairman said he had also spoken to Home Minister Rajnath Singh regarding the matter who told him he was not aware that the blockade was caused by the Indian side.

"I had clarified the matter to him during a telephone conversation today," he said.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had also spoken to Singh and informed him about the matter, Oli said.

Meanwhile in New York yesterday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj rejected as "totally false" allegations that it blockaded the trade checkpoint on the border with Nepal.

"Our stand is very very clear. We do not want to be prescriptive. It is for the people of Nepal and the political parties in Nepal to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution something for which ownership can be taken by all sections," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said after Swaraj met her Nepalese counterpart Mahendra Pandey.

Nepal Parliament's winter session that commences tomorrow will initiate the process of electing a new Prime Minister within a week as per the provision of the new constitution.

The new constitution has guaranteed the rights representation of the Madhesis, Tharus and other marginalised ethnic communities, Oli said, adding if they have grievances or demands that can be incorporated through constitution amendment or formulating necessary laws, they should come forward for a dialogue.

Madhesis are Indian-origin inhabitants of the Terai region bordering India who are opposed to splitting Nepal into seven provinces.

The government has formed a team headed by forest minister Mahesh Acharya and informal talks have already started with the agitating groups.

He said the new constitution has addressed almost all the demands of the Madhesi people including citizenship, proportional representation in the Parliament and the issue relating to boundary demarcation can be resolved through a commission, he said.

Under the new constitution, 45 per cent government jobs are reserved for the marginalised groups and 33 per cent reservation is made for women in the Parliament as well as in government jobs, he said.

"Population alone cannot be the basis for deciding number of seats in the parliament, as some mountainous region has districts where population density is very low but geographical area is very large.

"So we have decided to distribute seats on the basis of both geography and population," he said.

Demand of one of the Madhesi parties is to allocate parliament seats on the basis of population. At least one seat is provided for a district in the mountain region, he added.

"All our friendly countries and the United Nations have welcomed the new constitution. India being a very close friend has not, which is very sad thing," he said.

He asked India not to hesitate in welcoming the new constitution, which is the outcome of 65 years of struggle of the Nepalese people, as India has always supported democratic struggle of Nepal.

"The constitution was endorsed by overwhelming majority of 537 members of the Constituent Assembly members out of a total 598 members, which you find rarely anywhere else in the world," he said.

Even India's constitution was endorsed by near about two- thirds majority only, he added.

"There should not be misunderstanding and misinformation between our two countries that occupies that much space," he added.

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