At a time when a unified national voice was being raised against the Indian move to include Nepal’s Kalapani area as Indian territory in its latest political map, main opposition Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba has come up with contradictory remarks. He is reported to have recently said in Pokhara that India had released the objectionable political map through the consent of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. Such a comment is trust-eroding for Deuba personally and counter-productive for the main opposition party at large. This is a moment of contradiction and lack of consistency for a party that had demonstrated its unity regarding the Kalapani issue at the all-party meeting called by the Prime Minister.
From the very beginning, Nepali Congress had shown its concern over the publication of the Indian political map showing Nepali land in India. It had said that Kalapani is Nepali territory and the government should take the initiative to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Naturally, the government welcomed NC’s cooperative attitude and firm nationalistic position as it reflected the responsible stand of the main opposition party. The party was at the centre of praise from the government as well as people in general until Deuba took this contradictory deviation through his remarks without a basis. Had such issue really existed, he could express it during the all-party meeting or approach the Prime Minister in due process.
Deuba’s controversial remarks have come at a time when the government is taking serious initiatives for holding negotiations with India to resolve the international boundary issue. Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Shankar Das Bairagi recently said that the government had communicated with India through a formal letter, proposing high level negotiations to resolve the Kalapani issue. India’s response was being awaited in this regard. A consistent and cooperative stance was expected from the main opposition party. The remarks may have come to influence the by-election taking place shortly but this will have an adverse impact on trust building and national unity. Such tendencies will drive a wedge in the nationalist sentiments of the Nepali people.
Regarding the remarks made by Deuba, Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota has said that such cheap comments are a matter of worry. He has cautioned that such remarks will divide the Nepali people and weaken the nationalistic sentiment. Actually, the government was shocked by the remark of the main opposition leader. Baskota said that it is hard for him to believe that Deuba really said what was reported. But if it is true, he said, it will not be good for the party and himself, Minister Baskota said. The government’s shock over Deuba’s remarks is natural because he had not raised any such objections during the all-party meeting and after. It has come out abruptly, breaking NC’s consistency.
There might be issues regarding internal politics and political competition, which is natural in a multiparty democracy. But such minor differences should not surface when it comes to the larger issue of the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. This issue cannot be resolved through any blame game. Only national unity can make headway.