Lower House unanimously endorses proposal to consider amendment to constitution to update new Nepal map in national emblemGovernment registered the constitutional amendment proposal in Parliament three weeks after publishing a new map of Nepal including Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura within its borders.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously endorsed a proposal to consider a second amendment to the Constitution of Nepal, formally accepting the bill for the amendment process to update the country’s new political map.
All the parties voted for the proposal presented by Minister for Law and Justice Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe, opening the doors for lawmakers to register amendment to it, if any.
Three weeks after introducing a constitutional amendment bill in the federal Parliament, the government on Tuesday presented it at the Lower House.
The Cabinet, on May 20, had issued a new administrative map of the country incorporating Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani, all territories disputed with India, into Nepali territory. The government, two days later, registered a bill in Parliament, seeking to amend Schedule 3 of the constitution to update Nepal’s new political map in the national emblem.
Nepal decided to release its new political map after India earlier last month opened a link road via Lipulekh to Kailash Mansarovar in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Tumbahangphe presented the bill, which was followed by a discussion in the Lower House. Cross-party lawmakers welcomed the bill, saying the map has incorporated land that rightly belongs to Nepal as per the Sugauli Treaty.
Taking part in the deliberation, Nepali Congress Chief Whip Bal Krishna Khand said that his party has already decided to vote for the bill.
“Our party has long been saying that the area belongs to Nepal and we are happy the government has introduced the bill to amend the statute,” said Khand.
Along with the amendment in the statute, the government should also expedite diplomatic dialogue with India, he said.
The KP Sharma Oli government has been seeking diplomatic talks with India since November, when India released its own new map that included Kalapani as part of its territory. The Indian government has said that a date for talks will be decided once the Covid-19 pandemic is over.
The amendment bill, which requires a two-thirds majority in both the Houses of Parliament, is certain to pass, as all the opposition parties have backed the ruling party. Though Nepali Congress, Janata Samajbadi Party, Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party and Rastriya Janamorcha have registered separate amendments in the statute, they unanimously stood for the government’s bill. The deliberation on the bill continued for around four hours; 84 lawmakers from cross parties took part in the discussion.
Also putting his view in Parliament, Janata Samajbadi Party leader Laxman Lal Karna said they have always stood for national sovereignty and integrity and welcome the government move. He, however, was quick to point out that the government should not use the amendment to bolster its nationalist image.
“We have seen some acts to project oneself as nationalist and demean others,” he said.
Ruling Nepal Communist Party lawmakers called the amendment a “historic step” and asked all parties to ensure its unanimous endorsement.
“We are at the stage of claiming our land that India has been occupying for years,” Krishna Bhakta Pokharel, a ruling party lawmaker, said. “I urge all the lawmakers to vote unanimously for the bill to give a message of unity.”
According to officials at the parliament secretariat, after Tuesday's theoretical discussion, lawmakers will be given 72 hours to register amendments, if any.
“The bill will be tabled for detailed discussion and endorsement after 72 hours are over,” Gopal Nath Yogi, secretary at the secretariat told the Post. He said the amendments to the amendment bill too will be presented for the voting, if there are any.