The friction in Indo-Nepal ties shows no signs of abating, and in the latest development, the Oli government has tabled the Constitution Amendment Bill that seeks to adopt a revised political map of the landlocked country which shows integral parts of India- Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani in Nepalese territory. The Bill was tabled by Nepal’s Law Minister Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe.
This comes days after Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ishwor Pokhrel’s utterly objectionable and pernicious remarks that Nepal’s Army would fight if necessary. Pokhrel had said, “It (Nepal’s Army) would definitely play its role in the right time, as per the directives of the government based on our Constitution… If needed, it will fight.”
Earlier, the Oli government had stumbled upon a roadblock in its attempt to get the revised political map adopted as the main Opposition Party- Nepali Congress had said that it needed more time to arrive on a decision over the matter.
Since, formalisation of the revised political map is a Constitutional Amendment, it requires a two-thirds majority in the country’s Parliament. But this hiatus in Prime Minister Oli’s ‘irredentism’ has ended as the Nepali Congress has now stated that it would vote in favour of the Constitution Amendment Bill.
The Oli goverment has yet again upped the ante and NDTV has reported that according to sources, it usually takes a month to pass a Constitution Amendment Bill in Nepal’s Parliament. But this time around, the country’s Parliament is showing a strange sense of urgency and it might bypass several procedures to pave the way for the passage of adopting the revised political map within ten days.
With this move, the Communist regime in Nepal is blatantly disregarding India’s security and strategic interests. Recently, India had inaugurated the Dharchula-Lipulekh road link that gives India a strategic vantage point against China, only 4 kilometres away from the Sino-India border.
Nepal has started disputing Indian territory ever since the road was inaugurated hampering India’s security interests. India has been guarding the now disputed, territory since the 1962 Sino-India war, and not once did Kathamndu protest in the last 58 years or so. Now, suddenly it happens to have an issue, which it is also documenting constitutionally.
But Oli’s sudden offensive still doesn’t have complete consensus within Nepal. The parties from the plains or Madhes region that battles exclusionism within Nepal’s political framework is not very keen on supporting the latest Constitution Amendment Bill.
Upendra Yadav, leader of the Samajbadi Party, which has been at the forefront of the campaign for Madhesis struggle, has not explicitly supported the Bill.
Yadav said, “We have not decided to support or oppose the amendment bill till now. The main issue is that the bill has the single agenda of ratifying the map but we want it to reflect other concerns of the country too.”
The Constitution Amendment Bill only worsens the diplomatic offensive that Oli has initiated against New Delhi. The numbers game in Nepal’s Parliament is such that it won’t make a difference if Madhesis support or oppose the Bill. But this at least hints at deep divisions within Nepal’s body politic.
India continues to reject Nepal’s frivolous claims on the Indian territory, describing them as “unilateral” and not based on historical facts.
Meanwhile, India remains open to dialogue even though a recent attempt for a conversation between PM Modi and his Nepalese counterpart KP Sharma Oli couldn’t materialise. As per latest reports, a similar telephonic conversation could take place between the two leaders in the near future.