Nepal’s ex-PM Deuba in India for talks

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) Former Nepali prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is on a six-day visit to India, during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the Himalayan country moves forward on a draft ahead of next month’s deadline to adopt a new constitution.

Deuba, who arrived on Wednesday, will meet Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar on Thursday. He is in India till August 3.

On Friday, Deuba will call on President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan and then hold a meeting with Prime Minister Modi at 7, Race Course Road.

The visit of the senior Nepali Congress leader comes just days after that by former prime minister and Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda.

The visit by the Nepali leaders comes as the drafting process for a new constitution gathers steam in the country.

Sources said the meeting with Deuba was part of “regular consultations” that India was holding with Nepali leaders to see how it can help in the process, ahead of the August 16 deadline for bringing out a new constitution.

The Himalayan nation is attempting to write a constitution for the second time, with the first attempt in 2012 having collapsed.

The word “secularism” will reportedly go from the constitution, with political parties agreeing to remove the word following suggestions by millions of people to remove it.

A majority of people wanted “secularism” to be replaced by “Hindu” or “religious freedom”, according to Nepal’s Constituent Assembly that is now busy studying people’s views vis-a-vis the new constitution.

A report on the public feedback on the draft constitution collected from 240 parliamentary constituencies was submitted on Monday to Constituent Assembly chairman Subash Chandra Nembang.

The government had held a two-day national campaign on July 20 and 21 to collect the public feedback across the 75 districts in the country.

The report includes suggestions collected through public hearings and feedback received through website, email, toll-free number and direct mail from Nepalese people in the country and abroad.

The Constituent Assembly meeting is to amend the draft in line with the suggestions and forward the revised draft to the Constituent Assembly.

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