Nepal silence on Mumbai blasts shows drift in India ties

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : More than 24 hours after 17 people were killed in serial blasts in India’s business capital Mumbai and 131 people injured, Nepal’s major parties remained oblivious to the terror attacks with no statements of condemnation or solidarity with the southern neighbour.

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Such a vacuum would have been unimaginable during the lifetime of former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who despite the allegations of nepotism and corruption against him, had been a staunch friend of India.

Current Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal and his ruling communist party have, apparently, different priorities.

Khanal, who faces yet another crisis next month with his government having failed to take the stalled peace process an inch forward since the last failed deadline of May 28, Thursday issued a statement.

However, it was about the inauguration of the Asia Broadcasting Union News Group’s meeting in Kathmandu. The government remained silent about the Mumbai blasts.

Ironically, a large majority of Nepalis live in Mumbai and many have made their name and fortune there, like Bollywood diva Manisha Koirala and artist Laxman Shrestha.

The Indian government recently commissioned a documentary film to highlight the achievements of seven Nepalis in India’s film city – Rainbow over Mumbai.

With Nepal’s ministry of information and communications now in the hands of the Maoist party, who have several times branded India as their arch enemy, Nepal’s official media, the first to condole or congratulate foreign governments, remained silent Thursday, and none of the ministries or major parties condemned the blasts.

On Wednesday, the day of the blasts, the Indian government had formally announced the rehabilitation of a 15 MW hydropower project it had gifted Nepal.

The Devighat Hydroelectric Project, originally commissioned in 1984 under Indian grant, fell into disuse due to zero maintenance by Nepal. New Delhi subsequently put in an additional NRS.15 crore as well as NRS.15 crore line of credit to put it back on track through Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at [email protected])