NEW DELHI: Nepal has tabled a constitutional amendment for adopting a new map of the country that includes some areas of Indian territory, news reports said Sunday, setting the two neighbours up for a strain in bilateral ties.
The tabling of the amendment follows the Nepali Congress (NC)’s Central Working Committee (CWC) directing party lawmakers to vote in favour of the proposal to amend the constitution to change the country’s map in the national emblem, a media report said.
"The party will now stand in favour of the bill when it is put to voting," the NC’s CWC member Min Bishwakarma was quoted as saying by the Kathmandu Post.
With this, the decks seem to be clear for the amendment to sail through the Nepalese Parliament, cementing prime minister K.P.Sharma Oli’s credentials as a strong and nationalistic leader, not bowing to seeming pressure from India.
But the development is expected to see a definite strain in ties with New Delhi, given that the new map shows three areas that India claims is part of its territory as part of the new Nepalese map.
Previously, India and Nepal have been showing Kalapani and Lipulekh as part of their territory in their political maps, but Kathmandu earlier this month brought out a new map that shows Limpiyadhura also within its boundaries.
The trigger for the recent rise in tensions was Kathmandu’s objection to India inaugurating a road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand. India said the road lies within Pithoragarh district and will give Indian pilgrims easier access to Kailash Mansarovar. But Oli said Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura belong to Nepal and vowed to “reclaim" them through political and diplomatic efforts.
The constitutional amendment to approve the new map was to be tabled in the Nepalese last week by law, justice and parliamentary affairs minister Shivamaya Tumbahangphe but it was removed from the business schedule as per a request by the Nepali Congress to wait until the party could take a decision to this effect in its CWC meeting.
On Saturday, the NC which is the main opposition party in Nepal's Parliament and traditionally seen as pro-India, decided to vote in favour of the amendment bill.
On Thursday, India had indicated its readiness to engage with Nepal to resolve the border row on the basis of “mutual sensitivity and respect."
“India is monitoring the current situation in Nepal," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava had said.
"India is open to engaging with all its neighbours on the basis of mutual sensitivity and mutual respect, in an environment of trust and confidence. This is a continuous process and requires constructive and positive efforts," Srivastava had added.