Nepal Parliament’s lower house unanimously passes bill to redraw political map

By: |
June 13, 2020 8:01 PM

India last month reacted angrily to Nepal showing the three areas as Nepalese territory in the new map and cautioned the country that saying such "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.

As soon as Nepal’s Parliament meeting started Saturday afternoon, lawmakers from different political parties took part in deliberations on the bill. (ANI)

In a snub to India, Nepal’s Parliament on Saturday unanimously voted to amend the Constitution to update the country’s new political map, laying claim over three strategically key areas along the border with it. In a show of unprecedented national unity, Opposition parties including the Nepali Congress, Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal and Rastriya Prajatantra Party voted in favour of the bill to amend Schedule 3 of the Constitution to update the national emblem by incorporating the controversial map featuring new areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura along Nepal’s border with India.

India last month reacted angrily to Nepal showing the three areas as Nepalese territory in the new map and cautioned the country that saying such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it. India has been maintaining that these three areas belong to it.

India has said it deeply values its friendly ties with Nepal and the multi-faceted bilateral partnership has expanded and diversified in the recent years. Indian Army chief Gen M M Naravane on Saturday said the relationship between the two countries has always been strong and will remain so in the future.

“We have a very strong relationship with Nepal. We have geographical, cultural, historical, religious linkages. We have very strong people-to-people connect. Our relation with them has always been strong and will remain strong in the future,” Gen Naravane told reporters on the sidelines of the passing out parade of the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun.

In the midst of the border row, Gen Naravane had said that there were reasons to believe that Nepal objected to the road at the behest of “someone else”, in an apparent reference to a possible role by China in the matter. The comments triggered an angry reaction from Nepal.

As soon as Nepal’s Parliament meeting started Saturday afternoon, lawmakers from different political parties took part in deliberations on the bill. Most of the lawmakers were wearing face masks. All 258 lawmakers who were present in the House voted in favour of the amendment bill.

“The amendment proposal has been passed with more than two-thirds majority,” announced Speakar Agni Sapkota.
A two-thirds majority was required in the 275-member House of Representatives or the lower house to pass the bill.

The endorsement of the lower house will now pave way for the government to expedite the process to replace the political map in Nepal’s national emblem.

“This is a historic occasion, when the land we lost during the period of monarchy is being returned under the republican system. Nepal doesn’t want to allow enmity to emerge with our southern neighbour from this issue,” said former premier and president of ruling NCP Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.

“I am confident that the long standing issue relating to land encroachment will be resolved once and for all through dialogue and diplomatic efforts,” he added.

Expressing his party’s support to the bill, Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba said that Nepali people have stood united on the issue of nationality and territorial integrity. As per the Sugauli Treaty of 1816, the land east of Mahakali river belongs to Nepal, he added.

Speaker Sapkota rejected an amendment proposal submitted by Sarita Giri of Janata Samajwadi Party, saying that her proposal was not in line with Clause 112 (B) of HoR Regulations.

Giri sought to register an amendment proposal on the bill stating that Nepal did not have any evidence to claim the areas including Kalapani as her own sovereign territories. Following the rejection, Giri boycotted the parliament meeting halfway.

The government had registered the bill in the Parliament on May 22 and Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Shivamaya Tumabahangphe presented it before the House on May 24.

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. Now, the bill will be sent to the National Assembly where it will undergo a similar process. The ruling Nepal Communist Party commands 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 new map will be used in all official documents, including the coat of arms, once the President authenticates it.

A Cabinet meeting held on May 18 had endorsed the new political map.

The ties 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.

Nepal reacted sharply to the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through Nepalese territory. India rejected the claim asserting that the road lies completely within its territory.

Nepal last month released the revised political and administrative map of the country laying claim over the strategically key areas, more than seven months after India published a new map in November 2019.

India sternly asked Nepal not to resort to any “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims. Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has been asserting that Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura belong to Nepal and vowed to “reclaim” them from India.

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