Friday, July 12, 2013

Will discuss fuel subsidy with new Bhutan government, says India

New Delhi: 12 Jul 2013

Amid growing tension over the issue of fuel subsidy to Bhutan, India on Thursday said that the issue will be discussed with the new regime in Thimphu after the polls. India also believed to have conveyed that it has no intensions to create any hardship for the people of Bhutan.

\"We don\'t want to create any hardship for the people of Bhutan,\" said an Indian official source adding that the neighbouring country has been reassured that the issue of fuel subsidy will be discussed as soon as the new government is in place in that country.

READ MORE: Fuel subsidy withdrawal by India emerges as major poll issue in Bhutan

India has withdrawn the gas subsidy on a technical reason using the lapsed agreement with Bhutan, which expired on June 30.It was providing the assistance under Bhutan's 10th plan. Bhutan goes to polls on Saturday and at present there is no elected government. \"We will find a way to deal with the situation,\" the source said admitting that the \"timing could have been better\".

Bhutan has asked India for a re-look over its decision to withdraw subsidy on cooking gas and kerosene. The source also said that the situation was \"unprecedented\" as the Bhutanese government\'s budget had also expired. The source also said that India will need to go into \"careful accounting\" of the subsidy.

Former envoy flays India's decision

Meanwhile, India\'s former envoy to Bhutan Pavan K Varma strongly criticized the \"ill-timed and unwise decision\" of the Indian government in withdrawing the subsidy to the cooking gas provided to the Himalayan neighbour.

\"Government of India\'s decision was badly and wrongly timed as Bhutan is in the election process now and there is no elected government,\" he was quoted as saying by the Observer Research Foundation in a statement.

Varma said he believes that the government would revoke its decision soon. \"We should have waited till a new government took charge there and negotiated with them. If I was the advisor, I would have never advised such an unwise decision,\" Varma said.

Omair Ahmad, author of \'The Kingdom at the Centre of the World\', a book on Bhutan, said being a big and close neighbour, India should not seek reciprocity in relations.

Both Ahmad and Varma said India should also recognize the changes taking place in that country. They noted that Bhutan is no longer a Kingdom and it is a democracy now, the statement said.

Criticizing India\'s concerns over the country establishing diplomatic relations with China, Varma asked,\"What is wrong in a sovereign country seeking diplomatic relations with another neighbour and improving relations? Why should we concerned about it?\"

He said both the countries enjoy a special bond of relations and New Delhi need not worry about its relations with China. Varma also asked, \"Why should India be worried if Bhutan seeks to become one of the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council? They don\'t have even diplomatic relations with other permanent members of the UNSC,\" he said.

BJP raps govt

Attacking the UPA government over the issue, BJP termed the withdrawal as the \"worst case\" of foreign policy and asked the UPA regime to do a rethink.

BJP spokesperson and MP Prakash Javadekar said Bhutan has always been very friendly with India and relations between the two nations go a long way.

\"Bhutan had helped India in fighting terror by destroying the training camps there for terrorists,\" he said, adding, \"this is the worst case of foreign policy\" towards a friendly neighbour.

The party claims that India\'s relations with its neighbours- except Pakistan- were very cordial during the erstwhile BJP-led NDA regime.
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