Prachanda defends India's 'Akhand Bharat Map' in new Par-Building

KATHMANDU:  Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda on Wednesday defended India in response to continuous criticism of the 'Akhand Bharat Map' erected in the new Parliament building by the Nepalese opposition.

The CPN-UML and other opposition parties in Nepal disagree with the map's depiction of Nepal as a part of the former Indian landmass and have urged the Kathmandu government to raise the issue with India.

The Prime Minister said in a statement to the National Assembly on Wednesday that the map is not political and that he brought up the matter during his just-completed journey to India, where he met with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and other prominent figures.

"We brought up the new Indian map that was displayed in Parliament. Although we haven't done a thorough study, we raised this concern seriously, as was noted in the media. The Indian side, however, countered that it was a cultural and historical map rather than a political one. This is not intended to be a political strategy. It should be researched. But I raised it," he declared.

Opposition parties have been critical of Prachanda's trip to India, which they characterised as unsuccessful and fruitless despite the Prime Minister's claims to the contrary.During the visit, a number of agreements and understandings were established.

The leaders of the opposition parties have made fun of the importation of 15 Murrah buffaloes from India for breeding reasons and described it as the only productive agreement reached during the visit. For his proposal to swap territory with India in order to settle the boundary conflict, Prachanda is also up against fierce opposition. He had suggested that Nepal and India may exchange territory similar to how India and Bangladesh had done so in 2015, citing advice from experts.

In order to settle the boundary dispute in Kalapani, Lipu Lekh, and Limpiyadhura, some experts propose that Nepal seize the "chicken neck" that joins Bangladesh and India. 

The areas that are today Indian territory have been the subject of boundary disputes. However, the Nepali side has long claimed it as its own.

In 2020, the Nepali government published a new political map that included Kalapani, Lipu Lekh, and Limpiyadhura as part of its territory in response to Indian claims. This dispute has brought the bilateral relations to an all-time low.

"We covered a number of important topics during my visit to India, from the 1950s peace and friendship pact to the boundary dispute. We want to settle these conflicts and disagreements through diplomatic channels, so trust is necessary, the prime minister said.

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