The Nepal government’s move to provide a constitutional guarantee to the new map demarcating the Lipulekh mountain pass, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura under its territory has been deferred for the time being, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. The country has maintained that India has claimed these places by building a road despite repeated objections.
Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli failed to table the scheduled bill in the country’s Parliament on Wednesday due to differences within the ruling party. The nation’s Opposition parties also sought more time to enable the “party central committee” to take a considered stand on the territorial matter. Meanwhile, Indian officials said that they were closely monitoring the debates in the country.
For a constitutional amendment, Oli requires a two-third majority vote. Currently, the government is short of nine parliamentarians in the 275-member House of Representatives.
On Wednesday, Oli held an all-party meeting at his official residence in Kathmandu to discuss the boundary dispute with India, among other things. He stressed the need for his country’s parties to move forward with unconditional agreement on the geographical integrity of the country.
The dispute began after New Delhi issued an official map last year, including the Kalapani and Lipulekh area that Nepal regards as its own. The tension escalated further after India inaugurated the 80-km road in Uttarakhand, which connects close to the Line of Actual Control and opens a new route for Kailash Mansarovar yatra via the Lipulekh pass. Nepal has repeatedly claimed this was a breach of an agreement between the two countries, but India has said the new route is “completely within the territory” of the country.
Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali told The Hindu that the proposed amendment to the Constitution was expected to be fast-tracked in the coming days. “We merely reiterated that unilateral acts like road construction in Nepal’s territory should not have been done, and the issue should be resolved through talks at the earliest,” he added. “The [India] map is a breach of the 1997 understanding that both sides had reached during the Kathmandu visit of Prime Minister IK Gujral.”
On May 20, India’s foreign ministry said Nepal’s decision to release a revised map including the disputed region was not based on historical facts and evidence. “We urge the government of Nepal to refrain from such unjustified cartographic assertion and respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” a statement said.
Oli had told the Parliament last week that his government would reclaim the disputed region. He had also blamed India for the spread of the coronavirus in his country. The Lipulekh pass is a far western point near Kalapani, a disputed border area between Nepal and India. Both India and Nepal claim Kalapani as part of their territory. India has maintained that it is part of Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand.