KATHMANDU: Nepal's Parliament on Tuesday started discussions on a Constitution amendment bill to change the country's political map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura under its territory, amidst a border row with India.
Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Shivamaya Thumbhangphe tabled the Constitution amendment bill for discussions in Parliament in a bid to amend the Constitution to update the country's map.
The Constitution amendment proposal was to be tabled in Parliament last month but it could not proceed further after Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli said that he wanted to hold an all-party meeting to discuss the matter.
The bill seeks to amend the political map of Nepal included in the schedule 3 of the Constitution. It requires a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament to bring an amendment to the Constitution.
Parliament members belonging to the ruling Nepal Communist Party and Opposition parties are taking part in the discussion.
The NCP commands a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, but it needs support from other parties to get the Constitution amendment proposal through the Lower House, as it falls short of around 10 seats.
The Nepali Congress, the main Opposition party, has decided to vote in favour of the bill.
Nepal last month released the revised political and administrative map of the country laying claim over the strategically key areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura.
India reacted angrily to the move saying such "artificial enlargement" of territorial claims will not be acceptable and asked the neighbouring country to refrain from such "unjustified cartographic assertion".
The spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs also asked Nepal to respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, hoping that the Nepalese leadership will create a positive atmosphere for diplomatic dialogue to resolve the outstanding boundary issues.
The ties between the two countries 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.
Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said on Tuesday that Nepal was still waiting for a response from India on holding talks to resolve the border dispute.
“We have expressed time and again that Nepal wants to sit at the table to resolve this problem,” Gyawali told The Associated Press.
He said that requests to talk were made in November and December last year, and again in May.
“We are waiting for formal negotiations so that these two countries with ... a very unique type of partnership can develop a more inspiring relationship that reflects the requirements of the 21st century,” he said.
Gyawali last month said that he was confident that the Kalapani issue between the two neighbours will be resolved through talks.
"We have always said that the only way to resolve this issue is by negotiating in good faith. Without impulse or unnecessary excitement, and without prejudice, Nepal wants to resolve the border issues via dialogues, Gyawali told Republica, an English daily.
"We are confident that this issue will be resolved via bilateral talks," he added. He, however, did not mention about Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh - the two areas Nepal claimed belonged to it.
Responding to a question, he said, "We have been trying to hold talks in the matter. However, formal talks and conversations have not taken place yet."
"We are hopeful that our formal and informal channels of communication will yield something positive," he added.
Gyawali expressed the view that "the Indian side is also deeply concerned and feels the responsibility to address the issue."