Nepal's main Opposition leader Deuba visiting India

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Kathmandu, Apr 18: Sher Bahadur Deuba is paying a week-long "personal" visit to India, his first after being elected the head of the main Opposition Nepali Congress amid a political crisis in the country over a six-month-long Madhesi agitation.

Deuba, 69, was elected president of the largest democratic party in Nepal in March during the party's 13th National General Convention, succeeding late premier Sushil Koirala.


Although a Deuba aide said the India visit beginning today was for medical check up of his wife and NC lawmaker Arzoo Deuba, it is widely speculated here that he may have some high-level meetings with Indian leaders during the visit.

There is no pre-scheduled meeting with any Indian leaders however, a senior Nepali Congress leader said.

This will be the three-time former prime minister's first visit to New Delhi after the promulgation of the Constitution last year.

Following the promulgation, Nepal has been gripped by a severe political crisis as disgruntled Madhesi parties, who have a stronghold in the southern plains, began an agitation alleging that their interests have been overlooked in the new charter.

Though the six-month agitation abruptly ended in February ahead of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli's official visit to India, some Madhesi leaders appeared unsatisfied with the compromise offered by the government.

United Democratic Madhesh Front (UDMF), spearheading the campaign over more rights for Madhesis, has earlier announced a nationwide protest programme from tomorrow.

Previously, Madhesis, who are largely of Indian-origin, had staged violent protest campaigns and also imposed a trade blockade through the open border with India. Deuba has been calling for a peaceful resolution to the Madhesi problem through dialogue.

Ahead of the visit, Deuba met senior Madhesi leaders at his residence on Friday and discussed their demands.

Earlier, speaking at a public function in the capital Kathmandu, Deuba said the main Opposition Nepali Congress will take a leading role in resolving the Madhesi issue.

Deuba is the 8th president of the NC. He served as prime minister of Nepal from 1995 to 1997, from 2001 to 2002, and from 2004 to 2005.


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