Not proper to visit India until ‘border blockade’ ends: Nepal PM

Kathmandu: Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Oli today said it would not be appropriate to visit India until the “border blockade” ends, linking his maiden foreign trip next month to the normalisation of situation at the border.

“It would not be appropriate for me to visit India unless the situation returns to normal,” Mr Oli told a select group of journalists at his office here when asked whether he will visit India if the current “border blockade” continues.

Mr Oli alleged that India had imposed an “unofficial border blockade” and said that the country will soon lift it.

The Prime Minister said the government is keeping a close eye on separatist movements in Terai.

Mr Oli is expected to travel to New Delhi early next month on his first foreign visit as Prime Minister. Earlier, there had also been speculation that the Communist leader could visit China ahead of India.

During his telephonic conversation with Mr Oli a couple of months ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited him to visit India at an appropriate time.

No Nepalese Prime Minister has visited India after Prime Minister Modi’s two trips to Nepal last year.

Nepal government has alleged that the “border embargo” had been imposed by the Indian government, a claim which India has denied.

India has made clear that the obstruction in the movement of goods through the Indo-Nepal border was due to the protests by the Madhesis.

Nepal is facing acute shortage of cooking gas, petroleum products, medicines and other essential goods due to the five-month-long blockade of key border trade points with India due to the protests by the Madhesis.

Mr Oli’s remarks come after the announcement by Madhesis of new protest programmes on Monday.

Nepal’s parliament on Saturday voted to amend the country’s Constitution with a two-thirds majority four months after its promulgation, in a bid to resolve the political crisis.

The amendments addressed two key demands of the Madhesis– proportionate representation and seat allocation in the Parliament on the basis of population.

Madhesis have rejected as “incomplete” the constitutional amendments passed by the Parliament for failing to address their concerns over redrawing borders.

The agitating Madhesi community that shares strong cultural and family bonds with India is demanding demarcation of provinces, fixing of electoral constituencies on the basis of population and proportional representation. At least 55 people have been killed in the protests.