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New Delhi: Nepal, a key country in India’s neighbourhood, could have a new constitution by the middle of next month, around the time India celebrates 68 years of its independence. This comes seven years after the abolition of monarchy at the end of a 12-year-long civil war and Nepal being declared a republic.

Discussions between Indian leaders and former Nepal prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, popularly known as Prachanda, in the past week focused on the constitution-making process in the country as well reconstruction efforts following the 25 April earthquake that claimed some 8,500 lives.

During his week-long visit to India, Prachanda, the man who led Nepal’s former Maoist guerilla group and who is seen to be closer to China than India, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and home minister Rajnath Singh. He called on leaders of the Congress party and Janata Dal as well.

He also visited Bhuj in Gujarat, the epicentre of a 2001 earthquake that witnessed massive devastation, to see how the city was rebuilt, people familiar with the developments from the Indian and the Nepalese sides said.

During his meetings, Prachanda expressed his views on the constitution-making process in his country, an effort in progress for many years. Nepal is currently governed by the provisions of an interim constitution that was drafted in January 2007.

According to one of the people cited above, the 15 August timeline is one that is set by the Nepalese people. The draft constitution was drawn up after agreement among almost 81% of the Nepalese constituent assemblies in place after the November 2013 elections.

The draft constitution was put up on the Nepalese government website for public comments on 9 July. The last date for acceptance of suggestions from the public is by the end of this week, one of the people cited above said. “The suggestions will then go to the drafting committee by the end of this month," the person said.

The Indian government, meanwhile, sees this as a “good development", a second person said.

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