Nepal moves ahead with new map, says no offer of talks from India | India News

In the middle of the worst Sino-Indian border tensions in decades, there was more bad news for India from Kathmandu as Nepal Thursday completed the legislative process for the validation of its controversial new map which shows parts of India’s Uttarakhand state as belonging to Nepal.
The upper house of Parliament, National Assembly, Thursday unanimously approved the constitution amendment bill for revising the map in the national emblem. This is important for the K P Oli government to legitimise the new map which shows Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and the strategic Lipulekh Pass located near the tri-junction with China and Nepal as Nepali territory.
Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari quickly assented to the bill incorporating the new map into the national emblem.
India Thursday refused to comment on the development saying it had already made it clear what it thinks of the new map. After the bill was approved last week by the lower house, House of Representatives, the government had said the artificial enlargement of claims by Nepal was not based on historical fact or evidence and was not tenable. India also described it as violative of “our current understanding to hold talks on outstanding boundary issues”.
The ties now seem to be going into free fall with Nepal accusing India of ignoring its repeated pleas for dialogue on the boundary issue and India responding by claiming that it was Kathmandu which had declined the government’s offer of dialogue. India has said that talks were offered in the form of a phone conversation between the foreign secretaries, a virtual meeting and even a visit by the Nepal foreign secretary.
Nepal though vehemently denies this. “We had twice proposed talks and even dates. There was no response. In fact, at no stage was there even a hint of proposal from India for a dialogue on the border issue,” a senior Nepal official told ToI.
The problem for India is that the new map, while not altering the situation on the ground, may still mark a decisive pro-China tilt in Nepal’s foreign policy. The Indian army chief, M M Naravane, has already hinted China may be responsible for Nepal’s recent actions like the protest against the road India inaugurated to Lipulekh. Nepal though has strongly denied this saying that the Kalapani issue had been on bilateral agenda for decades. It has also cited a 1998 India-Nepal joint statement to prove that.
India has been worried about China’s growing footprints in Nepal for many years now. Nepal foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali’s participation Thursday in a high-level video conference on China’s BRI initiative also didn’t go unnoticed here. As Oli has said in the past though, Nepal sees its participation in BRI in its national interest.
Nepal was also among the few countries which publicly endorsed China’s controversial security law in Hong Kong. While Oli is seen by many as pro-China, he has himself as PM described this perception as a media construct and said that such “rumours” are rooted in unnecessary zero-sum mindset that Nepal’s engagement with one neighbour is detrimental to the other. Nepal’s new map may no longer allow India to take comfort from that assurance though.

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