Kathmandu: President Dr Ram Baran Yadav on Saturday asked India to help Nepal successfully conclude the landmark peace process and assist it bring about economic prosperity in the country, as he prepares for a crucial visit to New Delhi next week.
"The aim of my visit to India as the first president of Nepal is to promote our national interest, to further bilateral relations and to seek cooperation for our peace process and economic development," Yadav told a news agency ahead of his maiden 4-day official tour from February 15.
Yadav, a Nepali Congress party`s popular leader from the Madhesi community living in the Terai plains bordering India, was chosen as the country`s first president when the 601-member Constituent Assembly abolished the monarchy in May 2008.
India and Nepal share a unique relationship of friendship and cooperation characterised by an open border and deep-rooted people-to-people contacts based on shared history, culture, religion and languages.
62-year-old India-educated President said his visit is aimed at seeking New Delhi`s help and goodwill for concluding the peace process in a positive manner and to draft the constitution on time as well as to receive India`s continuous assistance for attaining economic prosperity in the country.
Praising India`s role in his country, he said it has always taken the side of the people in every important events in our history.
"India has always taken the side of the people in every important events in our history, be it the democratic revolution of 1950 or People`s Movements of 1990 and 2006," he underlined in an interview.
Yadav said Nepal wants India`s "continued cooperation
and support for its democratisation process and development
President Yadav, who spent around 14 years in India, mostly in Kolkata, and Chandigarh, while studying medicine, has been inspired by great Indian leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Jayprakash Narayan.
Yadav expected India, which has "more than 60 years of democratic history" to provide the "inspiration for consolidating democracy" in Nepal.
"India being a big democratic country, having more than 60 years of democratic history, should provide inspiration for consolidating democracy in the country," said Yadav, who received his MBBS degree from Calcutta Medical College in 1968 and MD in General Medicine from PGI-MER Chandigarh.
With regard to its relationship with its other giant neighbour China, Yadav said Nepal was for "friendly relations with both of them" as both are "the emerging economies of the world".
"India and China both are the emerging economies of the world and we want to further our friendly relations with both of them," he said in an exclusive interview at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
However, he underlined the special relationship with India due deep-rooted people-to-people contacts.
"We will expand cooperation and further bilateral relations especially with India with which we have very close ties due to cultural, geographical, social and religious proximities," pointed out Yadav, who practiced medicine in Kolkata for three years in the 1970s.
At the same time the president emphasised that "a
peaceful, democratic, stable and prosperous Nepal will also be
in the interest of India".
"Nepal and India can cooperate on many fronts, including hydropower, infrastructure development, environment, culture and tourism to benefit the people of both the countries," he said.
Political tensions have been high in Nepal since a Maoists-led government resigned last year amid a dispute with the president over the reinstatement of General Rukmangad Katawal, the then Army Chief dismissed by Prime Minister Prachanda in May last year.
The Maoists, who have around 40 percent of the seats in parliament, argue that the president`s move was "unconstitutional" and compromised "civilian supremacy" over the military.
President Yadav, who earlier served as the General Secretary of Nepali Congress party for two years, expressed "dissatisfaction" over the "slow pace" in framing the new constitution for the country.
"I am dissatisfied that the peace process and the constitution drafting works which are moving at a slow pace. At the same time, I am satisfied that both the tasks are on the track," said Yadav, who went to jail on different occasions for he establishment of democracy in the country.
Yadav, a former member of the Constituent Assembly and elected to Parliament for two terms before the abolition of the monarchy, underlined his role in coordinating and providing necessary help for pushing forward the stalled peace process.
"My responsibility is to coordinate these tasks and to provide necessary help for accomplishing these works, said Yadav, who was born in Sapahi village in the border district of Dhanusha in southern Nepal.
He pointed out that ultimately it is the government`s "main responsibility to conclude the peace process and to promulgate the constitution within the stipulated time frame of May 28, 2010".
"The major political parties, including Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, also have to play important role in accomplishing these tasks," he said.
With regard to the culture of violence existing in the country even after the end of the decade-long civil war, he said "Nepalese people should now bid farewell to the politics of violence once and for all"
He said it is necessary to manage the arms and the armies of the Maoists, to conclude the peace process and to draft a democratic constitution so that the achievements of the People`s Movement are institutionalised.
"Though the tasks of the government is not so easy -- full of problems and challenges -- we should focus our attention toward that end," he said.
The deepening political standoff has put new stresses on Nepal`s reconciliation efforts after the end of the insurgency in 2006.
President Yadav will receive a red-carpet welcome by his Indian counterpart Pratibha Devi Singh Patil at the Rastrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on February 16.
Yadav will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during which issue of defence and security cooperation is expected to figure.
The Nepalese President will also meet Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi, Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj and other prominent leaders.
The Nepalese President will be accompanied by Tourism Minister Sharad Singh Bhandari, his daughter Anu Yadav, his niece Kiran Yadavm, also a lawmaker of the Nepali Congress, and other top officials.
He will also visit Haridwar during the ongoing Mahakumbh Mela which started on January 14. He is expected to meet religious leaders like yoga guru Ramdev Baba, Pilot Baba and Dudhadhari Baba in Haridwar, according to his press advisor Rajendra Dahal.
Yadav`s link with India is deep rooted. He received his MBBS degree from Kolkata in 1968 and MD in General Medicine from PGI-MER, Chandigadh in 1985. He also practiced medicine in Kolkata for three years.
"I spent 10 years in Calcutta during 1967-77 and also witnessed the Naxalite movement at its peak," he Yadav said, as he underlined the need to end the "politics of violence" in his country.