Move to amend updated map to push India-Nepal relations into another serious crisis point | India News

With Nepal’s chief opposition party, Nepali Congress endorsing prime minister KP Sharma Oli’s constitutional amendment, the move to amend the updated map to include Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani in the constitution is likely to go through with the required two-thirds majority. It will push India-Nepal relations into another serious crisis point, because it involves fundamental territorial claims of both countries.
This will shore up Oli’s nationalist credentials and cement his hold over his party which had begun to fray from March onwards. The date for passing the amendment has not yet been set, but its likely to be soon.
The Nepali Congress had asked for a party discussion, but the result was a foregone conclusion according to Indian officials. Even if the party leaders had second thoughts, the issue has fired the cadres and ordinary people. Going against popular sentiment would diminish these leaders — across parties — leading to other political problems.
No political party in Nepal can afford to go against this particular amendment. Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) has already supported the Bill as have Samajbadi Janata Party Nepal and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal.
An Indian official observed,”These are issues that bind parties together irrespective of their ideological moorings. Senior Nepali politicians have been threatened by their cadres on this issue.”
Despite Modi’s repeated outreach to Nepal, this government cannot do anything right where the Himalayan neighbour is concerned, and India-Nepal relations have been a series of peaks and troughs for the past six years.
New Delhi stressed how helpful it had been during the Covid crisis, but Oli declared in public speeches that the “Indian virus” was more lethal than the Chinese or Italian virus, deflecting his own inadequacy in dealing with the pandemic.
Nevertheless, it was India which provided him a political lifeline when defense minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the Lipulekh road on May 8, giving Oli the reason to wrap himself and his politics in the flag, without much thought about the future. The comments by army chief Gen Naravane that Nepal was doing it at China’s behest only added to the fire, and succeeded in angering the Nepal army, which has been quiet on the issue.
India is unlikely to fall for what it sees as blackmail by Oli and his government — there will be no meeting of foreign secretaries until Nepal desists from passing the amendment, that’s been clear. On Thursday, the MEA spokesperson in a rare statement spoke of creating “an environment of trust and confidence.” This is a fairly stern reminder to Nepal.
“On the recent developments on the boundary issue, we continue to monitor the situation in Nepal. We note that this matter is receiving careful consideration in Nepal, taking its seriousness into account. 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,” Anurag Srivastava, MEA spokesperson said.
Nepal has asked for a meeting of foreign secretaries, India is not likely to oblige any time soon.
The mood in New Delhi is gradually hardening — there is an acknowledgement that perhaps the Lipulekh road should not have been opened with such fanfare, and that Gen Naravane should have been more discreet. But Nepal’s subsequent actions will drive the two countries to a difficult place.


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