Exclusive: Nepal Foreign Minister Gyawali confident new map will pass parliament test, India keeps a close eye

Nepal could not discuss and vote on amendment bill in its parliament to approve the newly released map by the KP Sharma Oli government recently. The new map of Nepal shows areas of Lipulekh, Lympiyadhura and Kalapani as its territory. It requires endorsement from country’s parliament in the form of a constitutional amendment to become official.

The constitutional amendment bill was to be taken up by parliament on Wednesday. But it has been delayed primarily on account of lack of numbers on the floor of the house. The government is short of the two-thirds majority, which is required for a constitutional amendment bill.

In an exclusive conversation with India Today, Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, however, said he is confident that the bill would be passed soon.

“There is unanimity for the amendment bill proposed by the government for the newly published map. It will be discussed and ratified soon with unanimity,” Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said.

When asked when it would be done, he said it is already on the agenda of Nepal’s parliament.

“Tomorrow is the budget. So, probably on Friday, the amendment bill is likely to come up. And, if not, then very soon. But I am confident that it will be taken up and ratified with support from all parties in Nepal,” Gyawali said.

Meanwhile, India is keeping a close eye on how things are unfolding in Nepal over the border dispute issue. A source in the Indian government said, “We are carefully following developments in Nepal. Border issues are sensitive by nature and require trust and confidence to be resolved to mutual satisfaction.”

The Oli government is nine votes short of the required number in Nepal’s parliament. During an all-party meeting was called on Tuesday by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to discuss the issue and build a consensus for ratification of the amendment bill, the Nepali Congress said it has to be ratified by the party’s working committee first.

Sources say the Madhesi parties who have 33 members wanted their demands met before voting on the amendment bill. Their demands include favourable resolution of the citizenship issue that led to nationwide protest and blockade in 2015-16.

According to the Kathmandu Post, Krishna Prasad Situala of Nepali Congress said, “The decision on the amendment to update the map will be made at the forthcoming Central Working Committee meeting. We requested that amendment be put on hold for time being.”

There are two major issues that need to be looked into by Nepal’s government. Changing the map on the national emblem which has the older version and ratifying the decision of the government.

The annexure of the constitution promulgated no September 19, 2015 says that Nepal’s territory would be as shown in the map on the day the constitution was promulgated.

Nepal’s constitution adds that everything in the constitution is changeable but sovereignty. Territory is part of the sovereignty.

Among other documentary evidence, New Delhi is banking on this annexure as proof that Nepal had accepted the map as it was. But with the amendments, Nepal will change the official seal of the government.

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