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Nepal plea on Constitution

New Delhi, Oct. 22: Nepal Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai today appealed to Indian leaders to help his country draft a new constitution with a veiled warning of a rethink on the current peace process if the effort failed.

“We are optimistic about the (drafting of) the constitution,” he told a gathering of leaders across the political spectrum. “But if we fail, there is going to be this big question whether or not the peaceful, democratic path is appropriate.”

Bhattarai said his party, the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which leads the mountainous nation’s ruling alliance, had been forced to take up arms to fight against the monarchy and autocracy but joined the democratic process when the opportunity came.

The hint was clear: this was Nepal’s last chance for peace and the “big question” lurked if the effort failed.

The Nepal Prime Minister, who ends his four-day official trip to India tomorrow, requested Indian leaders to exercise their influence on the opposition Nepali Congress not to hinder the peace process.

“Help us through different means to bring this constitution-drafting process to a successful conclusion,” he said at a “high-tea party” hosted by NDA convener Sharad Yadav at his residence.

“Democracy,” he underlined, “has to be made participatory. If we fail to do it legally, constitutionally, then people will be forced to raise arms.”

Among those present at the party were BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi, the Congress’s Digvijaya Singh, Ahmed Patel and Janardan Dwivedi, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.

Congress veteran Dwivedi, who sat with Karat during Bhattarai’s speech, said he didn’t “want to get into this question whether raising arms is justified”.

The Maoist Prime Minister also had a word of advice for Indian leaders, including the Marxists. Instead of copying the western model of democracy which, he said, had only helped to serve the interest of a small section of society, Bhattarai said South Asia should assimilate the thoughts of “original thinkers” like Mahatma Gandhi and Ram Manohar Lohia.

Bhattarai described his visit to India as “successful” and said he was “quite happy” that the two sides had been “able to foster a sense of trust”.

“Whatever misunderstandings were there have been dispelled…. A new chapter has been opened up in Indo-Nepal relationship,” he said, thanking India’s political leaders for honouring him.

Bhattarai, who was Karat’s junior at JNU, reminisced about his “long years” in India. “I got my political training in India. People think I got degrees in India. That is not important. Several people get such degrees. But the degree of struggle I got in Delhi, that is important,” he said.

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