August 8, 2019 07:02 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Aug 8: Top leaders of major political parties in Nepal have expressed condolence at the sudden death of senior leader of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and former Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. They have fondly remembered their meetings and working with her while appreciating her human approach and good sense of humor and humility.
Prime Minister KP Oli said he was deeply shocked to learn about the passing away of Swaraj, who died of cardiac arrest at the age of 67 in New Delhi late in the evening on Tuesday. “I fondly recall how intimately she used to call me brother and share feelings of affinity,” he wrote on Twitter.
In his separate messages of condolence to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba has recalled the contribution made by late Swaraj to further strengthen bilateral relations between Nepal and India. While expressing sorrow over the untimely demise of Swaraj, former Prime Minister Deuba has extended heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family members and Indian people.
Chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) Kamal Thapa said he was extremely saddened by the passing away of Swaraj, who he said was a senior leader of India with extraordinary talents. Nepal lost a good friend. “[I] Fondly remember working together in difficult times,” he said, while expressing condolences to the bereaved family, government and people of India.
Thapa served as foreign minister when India enforced an economic blockade on Nepal shortly after the promulgation of new constitution in Nepal in September, 2015. Thapa had travelled to New Delhi many times and held meetings with Swaraj as an emissary of the then prime minister, KP Oli.
Although political leaders have chosen not to mention anything about blockade in their condolence posts, late Swaraj leaves a mixed legacy in Nepal. A large number of people have complained about the blockade in their condolence messages in social media platforms.
Swaraj, who visited Nepal in her capacity as foreign minister after assuming office in May 2014, had important contribution to resolve many outstanding issues in the bilateral relations between Nepal and India. But the economic embargo that India enforced on Nepal when she was foreign minister overshadowed all her good contribution such as holding Joint Commission meeting after a hiatus of decades, convening of all meetings of bilateral mechanisms on regular basis and forming of Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to review all aspects of bilateral relations.
Swaraj, however, drew serious controversy in Nepal when she as External Affairs Minister defended the economic embargo in 2015/16. During a debate on Nepal held at India’s Rajya Sabha meeting, Swaraj had defended the Indian government’s move saying that it was not the first time New Delhi had enforced economic embargo on Nepal.
“She made a hue and cry saying that the constitution was promulgated in Nepal without holding serious discussions. But India this week amended its constitution without any serious parliamentary debate; Jammu and Kashmir was reorganized. But she praised that. She is a person with state crafts, but not supporter of political justice. Condolence,” wrote one Safal Ghimire in his post in Facebook.
Condolence book to be kept at Indian Embassy
The Indian Embassy in Kathmandu has said a Condolence Book will be kept at the embassy from 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm on Thursday and Friday. “The Embassy of India in Kathmandu with profound grief wishes to convey that Mrs Sushma Swaraj, former External Affairs Minister of India, passed away on 6 August 2019,” the embassy said in a statement, while announcing to keep open a Condolence Book in the Embassy.