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Nepal PM faces setback as his proposed constitutional amendment to adopt new map incorporating Indian territories delayed by political parties

Though the incumbent Nepal Communist Party holds a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, it still needs backing from other political parties to get the proposal passed through the Lower House

The discussions to amend the constitution for updating the country’s map have been held back as political parties in Nepal have sought national consensus on the matter.

Nepal PM KP Oli aggressively pushed the constitutional amendment to update Nepal’s map. But, he couldn’t muster consensus from the political rivals who saw through his efforts to invoke nationalistic fervour against India. The government had floated an amendment proposal on May 22 after releasing the controversial map that showed Indian territories of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh in Nepal. The map was allegedly released after India inaugurated its road via Lipulekh to Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet.

The release of the new map triggered a stern response from India, describing the unveiling of a new political map with Indian areas as Nepali territory as an “unjustified cartographic assertion” that is unacceptable to her. Condemning Nepal’s actions, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “The Government of Nepal has released a revised official map of Nepal today that includes parts of Indian territory. This unilateral action is not based on historical facts and evidence.”

The constitutional amendment was initially planned to be tabled on Tuesday. However, a leader claimed that it could not be tabled on Tuesday as the prime minister was keen on holding an all-party meet to discuss the issue. A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority vote and therefore Oli had convened a meeting of all political parties on Tuesday.

Though the incumbent Nepal Communist Party holds a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, it still needs backing from other political parties to get the proposal passed through the Lower House, as it lacks the required majority by 10 seats.

However, Nepal PM KP Oli’s plan to forge a national consensus seemed to fall apart as the principal opposition party—Nepali Congress claimed that it could not take a definitive stand on the matter until it is decided upon by the Central Working Committee after deliberating within the party.

“Our support is for the territorial integrity of the country and we also back government’s release of the map,” Krishna Prasad Situala, a Nepali Congress leader said. However, he added, “The decision on the amendment to update the map will be taken at the upcoming Central Working Committee meeting. So we requested that the amendment be put on hold for the time being.”

Two other opposition parties, the Samajbadi Party Nepal and the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal have also demanded that their calls for amendments to the constitution also should be incorporated in the proposed amendment.

Communist Party of Nepal’s aggression against India

Earlier this month, KP Oli also made expansionist claims in a speech in the parliament where he asserted that Nepal would “bring back at any cost” the Indian territories of Kalapani-Limpiyadhura-Lipulekh area. Nepal’s newfound belligerence against India partly stems from Beijing, which considers New Delhi as a threat to its global ambitions. Many attribute Nepal’s bellicosity against India to China who is rapidly expanding its footprint in the communist-ruled Kathmandu.

It is also worth noting that Nepal’s defiance against India has come 10 days after the Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a link road on the Kailash Mansarovar route in Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand, leading to Lipulekh.

The foreign ministry of Nepal had issued a press release voicing their protest against the move, claiming the link road passed through Nepali territory. However, India rejected the claims, saying “the link road lies completely within the territory of India”

India claims that the link road follows the pre-existing road that was used by the pilgrims to visit Kailash Mansarovar. “Under the recent project, the same road has been made more robust for the ease and convenience of the pilgrims,” an official said.

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