Kathmandu, June 7: Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ on Wednesday said that he raised the issue relating to the ‘Akhanda Bharat’ map kept in India’s new Parliament during his visit to New Delhi and the Indian side clarified that it was a cultural map and not a political one.
Prachanda made the remarks in Parliament when the opposition lawmakers slammed him for not raising the issue of ‘Akhanda Bharat’ map, which, they claimed, also consists of Nepal’s territory.
“While talking about the map during my India visit, the Indian side said it was a cultural map, not a political one. Further study should be carried out on the issue,” he said while responding to the questions raised by the lawmakers.
Prachanda said he mentioned the map during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said it was a cultural map not a political one.
India has downplayed the issue of a mural in the new Parliament building, describing it as an artwork that depicted the spread of the prehistoric Ashokan empire.
The mural triggered a controversy in Nepal as it is being interpreted as a map of ‘Akhand Bharat’ comprising parts of several neighbouring countries.
Prachanda said discussions were also held regarding border issues such as Kalapani and Lipulekh, and Prime Minister Modi expressed commitment to resolve the border issue between Nepal and India.
“An environment to operate low altitude flight has been created. Discussion was held regarding resolving border problems – Kalapani and Lipulekh. Prime Minister Modi in a joint press meet expressed commitment to resolve border problems between Nepal and India,” said Prachanda.
Prachanda visited India from May 31 to June 3, his first official trip abroad since assuming office in December 2022. His meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday saw the two countries signing seven agreements and launching six projects including new railway services.
The two leaders also vowed to resolve the vexed boundary dispute in the spirit of friendship.
Prachanda said that he felt respected and proud over the just concluded India visit, which is likely to open up avenues for Nepal’s development and prosperity.
Responding to another question, he said that he clearly urged India to create an environment for using different areas including Nepalgunj, Mahendranagar, and Biratnagar as international air routes. At present, Nepal is using only one air route, Simara air route located on the southern border.
In another question, the prime minister said that he did not formally discuss matters relating to exchanging land with India in any meeting, adding “only talks were held about the different types of models.”
He was pointing to the media report that Prime Minister Prachanda discussed with Indian leadership the issue of giving Kalapani and Lipulekh to India in exchange of providing land to landlocked Nepal to get alternative access to sea through Bangladesh.
The ties between India and Nepal came under severe strain after Kathmandu published a new political map in 2020 that showed three Indian territories — Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh — as part of Nepal.
India reacted sharply, calling it a “unilateral act” and cautioned Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.
Nepal is important for India in the context of its overall strategic interests in the region, and the leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old “Roti Beti” relationship.
The country shares a border of over 1850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services.
The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations between the two countries.