New Delhi: Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's act of “unilaterally” amending the map of his country by including Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura in India's Uttarakhand has caused “irreparable damage” to Indo-Nepal ties which no Nepalese leader can undo in future, senior Congress leader Dr Karan Singh has said.
Dr Singh used to be highly influential in the Indo-Nepal relationship during the UPA regime and still holds clout in the Himalayan country. Dr Singh is also the perfect example of what is termed as “roti-beti ka rishta” between the two countries. This is because his wife is from Nepal's reputed Rana family and the erstwhile Jammu Kashmir royal has invested a lot in the relationship between the two countries.
Upset with the present scenario, hardening of positions and tough posturing by Nepal, Dr Singh, in an interview to this paper, said there were mistakes by both sides but Nepal will be at a bigger loss and it should have first talked to India before taking this harsh step of amending the map.
“The two countries are closely associated. There is free movement of goods and people. About 40,000 Nepalese soldiers are serving in Indian armed forces. Their diplomats and civil servants train with ours. Many Nepalese freely work and study in India and are grossly dependent on India. So, this confrontation will have its repercussions. We looked at Nepal as an ally and they have rudely thrown this (amendment) on our face. This is not the correct way. Map doesn’t change things and realities on ground,” Dr Singh added.
While terming Oli’s move as “irreversible confrontational posture”, the former Cabinet minister and the ex-ambassador of India to United States said that it was a big diplomatic lapse by India too as the foreign ministry failed to engage with leadership in Kathmandu in time to avoid this situation. He said the delay on Indian part has led to an embarrassing situation for the country.
“Mistakes have been made by both sides. On the Indian side there were delays -- PM Narendra Modi could have spoken to PM Oli on the hotline when they (Nepal) were raising this matter in November. We knew of Oli’s political moves. India should have acted in time. There could have been talks. But now there is full stop. Now politically the situation is embarrassing,” he said adding this situation was building up since 2015 after the economic blockade by India.
“I see a long deadlock and muddied relations. Even if people to people relations remain same, country to country relations have gone sour. We need to let the shock wear off before we take the next step. We are upset, they are triumphant. We do not have to see what Oli has done, but see what we have not done. For India-Nepal relations, all I can say now is `Mujh se pehli si muhabbat mere mehboob na maang’ ” said Dr Singh while quoting poet Faiz to sum up the scenario.