India Relieved But Cautious after Nepal Puts Its Revised Map on Hold with Opposition Parties Seeking More Time

File photo of Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

File photo of Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

India last week had rejected the map, cleared by the KP Sharma Oli cabinet, as a “unilateral act” and had asked Nepal to refrain from such “unjustified cartographic assertion”.

Maha Siddiqui
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In what would come as some relief in the discomfort in ties between India and Nepal, the constitutional amendment bill regarding the revised map of Nepal was not introduced in its Parliament on Wedensday.

The bill, set to be introduced by Law Minister Shiva Maya Tungbahamphe, was removed from the scheduled list of business as the main opposition party -- the Nepali Congress -- sought more time to decide on its stand over the matter. Since it was a constitutional amendment, it would have required a two-thirds majority for which support of the main opposition would have been vital.

The revised map was a controversial one as it included Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh as part of Nepal's territory.

Indian government sources told CNN-News18 that the ongoing debate on the matter in Nepal underlines the seriousness of this issue. It also demonstrates the value being attached to the relations between India and Nepal, they added.

But the sources also mentioned they will continue to monitor the situation as border issues are sensitive by nature and require trust and confidence to be resolved to mutual satisfaction.

Senior Nepalese journalist Ishwar Dev Khanal told CNN-News 18 that the Madesh-based parties -- Samajbadi Janata party Nepal and the Rashtriya Janata Party Nepal -- were also undecided and were asking the KP Sharma Oli-led government to address their long-standing demand to be incorporated.

India had rejected the map, cleared by the Oli cabinet, as a “unilateral act” and had asked Nepal to refrain from such “unjustified cartographic assertion”.

“Such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted by India,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said last week after Nepal released its revised map.

Nepal had objected to the link road inaugurated by India on the Kailash Mansarovar route in Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand leading to Lipulekh on May 7. Nepal’s foreign ministry had issued a press release objecting to the link road claiming it passes through Nepalese territory. India had rejected the claim, saying it “lies completely within the territory of India”.

India has said the road follows the pre-existing route used by pilgrims of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. “Under the present project, the same road has been made pliable for the ease and convenience of pilgrims, locals and traders,” it said.

But Oli took what some analysts termed a “nationalistic” stance and the new map was released by the Ministry of Land Management on May 20. However, at the moment the matter seems to have come to a temporary halt as the government does not have a two-thirds majority to pass the bill alone. Oli is believed to have urged the opposition in the all-party meeting on Tuesday evening to support the move to send out a message of national unity.

Nepal's move to publish the revise the new map came weeks after Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said efforts were on to resolve the border issue with India through diplomatic initiatives. He had also summoned the Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Vinay Kwatra, two days after India inaugurated the link road in Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand to Lipulekh, raising objections against the move.

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