India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has asked its leaders to refrain from making irresponsible comments about Nepal and said ruling party politicians should not visit Nepal without prior approval.
The move comes after controversial political comments by some BJP leaders who recently visited Nepal. In February, the BJP’s Vice Chair Renu Devi (see picture above) on a visit to Kathmandu warned that ethnic federalism would lead to Nepal’s disintegration. A few days later, the BJP’s General Secretary Ram Madhav had to clarify that Renu Devi’s statement was her personal opinion, and it did not reflect the party’s view.
Earlier in July, BJP leader Vijay Jolly had expressed dissatisfaction over Nepal adopting secularism without a referendum. Jolly has visited Nepal and held meetings with Nepali leaders several times in the recent past. BJP leader Bhagat Singh Koshyari had also visited Nepal to lobby for north-south federal provinces. Sources say the BJP has particularly instructed Jolly and Koshyari not to visit Nepal without the party’s approval.
The most damaging comment was by Dr Dinesh Upadhyay, co-convener of the BJP’s medical cell. Claiming to be a BJP delegate in Kathmandu, he not only advocated the revival of the monarchy but also disclosed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met former king Gyanendra Shah and claimed to have been present during that meeting. During his visit to Nepal, Indian minister Nitin Gadkari rubbished Upadhyay’s statements.
The BJP has also dismissed Nalini Gyawali as its Nepal representative. Gyawali was Nepal convener of Overseas Friends of BJP. BJP General Secretary Madhav himself will be overseeing Nepal affairs for the time being. Prime Minister Modi and BJP Chair Amit Shah have formed a panel to prepare the party’s new Nepal policy, which sources say will include a special chapter on the Madhes. This is why three of the seven members of the BJP team tasked with preparing new Nepal policy are from Bihar.