Hours after Nepal's Parliament unanimously voted to amend the Constitution to update the country's new political map, laying claim over the strategically key areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura along the border with India, New Delhi on Saturday said the "artificial enlargement of claims" is untenable.
"We have noted that the House of Representatives of Nepal has passed a constitution amendment bill for changing the map of Nepal to include parts of Indian territory. We have already made our position clear on this matter," said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava in response to media queries on the passing of the bill.
"This artificial enlargement of claims is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable. It is also violative of our current understanding to hold talks on outstanding boundary issues," he added.
In a show of unprecedented national unity, Nepal's major opposition parties, including Nepali Congress (NC), Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), voted in favour of the government bill to amend Schedule 3 of the Constitution to update the national emblem by incorporating the new controversial map.
A two-thirds majority was required in the 275-member House of Representatives or the lower house to pass the bill.
On June 9, the Parliament unanimously endorsed a proposal to consider the Constitution amendment bill to pave way for endorsing the new political map amid the border row with India.
The bill will now be sent to the National Assembly where it will undergo a similar process. The ruling Nepal Communist Party commands two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. The National Assembly will have to give lawmakers 72 hours to move amendments against the bill's provisions, if any.
After the National Assembly passes the bill, it will be submitted to the President for authentication, after which the bill will be incorporated in the Constitution.
The government on Wednesday formed a nine-member team of experts to collect historical facts and evidence related to the area.
Diplomats and experts, however, questioned the government's move, asking why the task force was formed when the map has already been released and approved by the Cabinet.
Just two days ahead of voting, Srivastava had sidestepped all questions regarding the voting or reaching out to Kathmandu by just saying "we have already made our position clear" and went on to elaborate on the "civilisational, cultural and friendly relations with Nepal”.
This despite the fact that Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli just one day before this statement said that if India showed more willingness for dialogue, a solution could be found. India had also stressed on a diplomatic dialogue in the May 20 statement but foreign secretary-level talks still remain pending between the two sides.