The map used to convey Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s Vijaya Dasami greetings was distorted because of technical reasons, the government of Nepal clarified on Saturday. Rajan Bhattarai, Foreign Affairs Advisor to Prime Minister Oli, said Nepal has not diluted its claim to the Kalapani region which has been at the centre of a territorial dispute.
“Scaling down of the image for online usage created this impression. It’s a technical issue. We have not changed our position at all on the territorial demand. The government of Nepal is strongly committed to the map that was passed by Parliament. It was the same map that was actually used in the message by the honourable Prime Minister,” said Mr. Bhattarai over phone from Kathmandu.
The response came after The Hindu reported that Mr. Oli’s message showed an old map which did not include the strategically located Kalapani-Lipulekh-Limpiyadhura region of the Pithoragardh district that Nepal has been claiming. Mr. Bhattarai blamed the online media of Nepal for creating ‘confusion’. “We are using the new map and the revised insignia for our festival greetings.”
The issue began on Friday when Mr. Oli sent out online greetings for Vijaya Dasami or Dashain which is the biggest festival of Nepal.
The triangular piece of land in the extreme northwest of Nepal is however shown as part of Nepalese sovereign territory in the new map unveiled on May 20 and was made part of the insignia of the Nepalese state by an amendment on June 13. Mr. Oli’s use of the national insignia carrying the old map drew strong reaction from the political class of Kathmandu with leaders expressing surprise.
“Mr. Oli at his individual level can use any map of Nepal that he wishes but as the Prime Minister he should have used the national map that was passed by Parliament and dedicated to the Nepalese people,” said Bishwaprakash Sharma, spokesperson of the Opposition Nepali Congress told The Hindu over phone. Mr. Sharma said Mr. Oli has undermined Parliament as the map was passed in both the Houses.
It also drew comments on social media with Nepalese users connecting the move with Thursday’s discussion that he held with Samant Kumar Goel, chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). The visit drew attention as it came a fortnight before the scheduled visit of Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane.
Despite Saturday’s clarification from Mr. Bhattarai, the map had not been corrected on his social media pages.