Senior Nepali Congress leader and former foreign minister of Nepal Prakash Sharan Mahat has batted for dialogue with India during the Delhi visit. On Friday, he held talks with the ruling BJP party and EAM Dr S Jaishankar. Speaking to our diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal exclusively in Delhi, Mahat who is the Joint General Secretary of Nepali Congress said, “We need to have very frank and straight discussions, communication and that will only help in having better relations between 2 countries”.
During his meeting with EAM Jaishankar, he raised the issue of border row, deliveries of Covishield vaccines, and Nepalese national falling into the Mahakali river. He said,” If India comes out with a positive gesture, that will give a very positive message in Nepal.”
Nepal congress delegation visit to Delhi comes, even as there has been a new government in Nepal under the leadership of PM Sher Bahadur Deuba. Under the previous Oli-led government, New Delhi-Kathmandu ties had plummeted in the backdrop of the new Nepal map row.
Sidhant Sibal: How were the conversations in Delhi, with the ruling party BJP and EAM Dr S Jaishankar?
Prakash Sharan Mahat: We had a discussion with party leaders, party leader JP Nadda, very good meeting. We want to have exchanges between 2 parties so that there is more understanding, and we understand each other and we also understand how both parties function. We learn from good practices of both parties, that is the aim. We aim to further these corporations and exchanges of these visits. Meeting went very well, and we had fruitful discussions. At the government level, we met EAM Jaishankar and we had very good meetings. I raised issues important for Nepal, from border issues, the Covishield issue that needs to be delivered to Nepal, fertilizer deliveries, similarly one case of falling of one person of Nepal who fell into river Mahakali. There was a question of the role of BSF personnel, and many issues important to Nepal. We suggested giving importance to issues, they may look like smaller issues, but that will have a huge impact on Nepali people’s sentiment. If India comes out with a positive gesture, that will give a very positive message in Nepal and help build our relationship at a higher level, and that is what we discussed and I found discussion with him with a very positive mindset and he reiterated we support whatever government in Nepal, always support democratic practices and we want to see that Nepal move forward.
Sidhant Sibal: How do you see India Nepal relations going forward. The new Nepal map row had irked Delhi a lot…
Prakash Sharan Mahat: On the Nepal map, we have a common position that is based on historical facts. We believe that we have legitimate claims. We have to resolve it through diplomatic dialogue. That is the only way, I suggested that if we start talking about this sooner and later, we will find a resolution. It may not happen over time, but for sure once we start talking..that was my suggestion. He took it very positively. Similarly, on the Covishield issue, he said they will deliver it soon. There were other issues he said positively, and he wanted to have a very strong relationship between the two governments, two nations. We are contributing to India a lot in terms of securing borders, at the same time India is also helping. But we need to have very frank and straight discussions, communication and that will only help in having better relations between the two countries. We (the two nations) have so many things in common; open borders, people coming here and there, we have similar cultural aspirations and values. We have pilgrimage centers in Nepal, India, where both people visit each other’s places. I think we are bound to be together so that there is no scope of distancing ourselves. Even when we have some problem, so only way to resolve is talking, so we cannot keep away from talking, and during the previous govt, and zig-zag in approach to foreign relations, there is a distrust. They give a different message at different times, that is not the way foreign policy is conducted. So we have a different approach. We have common yardsticks for each of our Neighbours and other friendly nations so that we conduct our foreign policy in a professional way.
Sidhant Sibal: And You will be going to Lucknow?
Prakash Sharan Mahat: We are going to Lucknow tomorrow and meeting with CM Yogi Adityanath. UP has a long border with Nepal, so we will discuss how the largest state in India and Nepal can work together. We have people coming in, going. At the local level, we have good relationships that will facilitate people from both sides.
Sidhant Sibal: Increased Chinese influence in Kathmandu has been a worry. Delhi is worried about it. How do you see ties with Delhi and Beijing?
Prakash Sharan Mahat: We should have good relations with both countries. We are located between two big countries; we need to have a good relationship but the relationship should be based on Nepal’s interest. Each country will focus on its interest, so Nepal should not be an exception. So, when we deal with China, we will make sure our interests will be protected. Dealing with India also, make sure our interest will be protected. If we follow this principle, nobody can encroach on our interests. Nepali Congress is very clear about, and will not be influenced by what kind of govt there is. This is a nation-to-nation relationship and has nothing to do with the political system there. We are a democratic country and we run our country in a democratic way. Will make sure our interest is protected and will not let any country encroach on something which is detrimental to the security of another country.