Nepal PM surprises friends and foes, issues 'old map' in Vijaya Dashami greetings

    25-Oct-2020   
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New Delhi: Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has sprung a surprise. In his customary Vijaya Dashami greetings to citizens, Oli indicated a softer line and used an 'old map of Nepal' to greet everyone during the festive season.
 
The old map does not show the region of Kalapani-Lipulekh-Limpiyadhura, which is part of India’s Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand.
 
Importantly, Oli's Vijaya Dashami greetings come within days of his meeting with Indian external intelligence agency
RAW chief Samant Kumar Goel.
 
On October 22, Goel paid a 'courtesy call' on the Nepalese Prime Minister preceding the much expected Indian army chief Gen M M Naravane's visit to Nepal in the first week of November.
 
Some of these developments have certainly created ripples. Predictably, opposition Nepali Congress leaders have criticised PM Oli for issuing 'old map'.
 
It is true that the ties between the two countries came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.
 
There has been a simmering dispute between the two countries over the Kalapani issue.
 
On May 20, Nepal released a 'new map' showing the areas as part of Nepalese sovereign territory. In June, India had rejected Nepal Parliament's move on passing of a Constitutional Amendment Bill that approves new and controversial maps.
 
"This artificial enlargement of claims is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable," MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava has said in response to media queries. He further had said that the fresh move "is also violative of our current understanding to hold talks on outstanding boundary issues."
 
Nepal and India share a 1,800 km open border. On August 15, Mr Oli spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
"The Prime Minister of Nepal greeted the Government and People of India on the occasion of its 74th Independence Day, and also conveyed congratulations for India’s recent election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council," an MEA statement has said.