Hours after Nepal’s lower house of Parliament unanimously voted to amend the Constitution seeking to make alterations in the country’s political map, India on Saturday termed the move untenable and said it was not based on “historical facts or evidence”.
“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,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
Escalating its row with India over territorial claims to the Lipulekh-Kalapani-Limpiyadhura region, the House of Representatives or the Lower House, voted to amend the Constitution, seeking to make alterations, additions to the country’s political map and national emblem.
Nepali Congress (NC), Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) were among the major opposition parties that voted in favour of the government bill to amend Schedule 3 of the Constitution, news agency PTI reported.
In the 275-member House of Representatives or the Lower House, a two-thirds majority was required to pass the bill. Now, the bill will be sent to the National Assembly, where it will undergo a similar process. The ruling Nepal Communist Party commands a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. The NA 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 relations between India and Nepal came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8. India controls Lipulekh, Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and its maps show the area as part of its territory — this is contested by Nepal.
While Nepal reacted sharply to the inauguration of the road, claiming that it passed through its territory, India rejected the claim asserting that the road lies completely within its territory.
Last month, Nepal had released a revised political and administrative map of the country, laying claim to the strategically key areas on Indian maps. Responding to the move, India said such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable and asked Nepal to refrain from such “unjustified cartographic assertion”.
The spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs also asked Nepal to respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and hoped that the Nepalese leadership will create a positive atmosphere for diplomatic dialogue to resolve the outstanding boundary issue.
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. A day later, the government 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.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli had said that his government will seek a solution to the Kalapani issue through diplomatic efforts and dialogue on the basis of historical facts and documents. “We will get back the land occupied by India through holding a dialogue,” Oli said while responding to questions in Parliament on Wednesday.
With PTI inputs