Nepal’s Army chief General Purna Chandra Thapa declined PM KP Oli’s request to respond to Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, reports said. General Naravane had said that Nepal may be protesting against India’s roadwork at the behest of “someone else”. General Thapa reportedly said this was a political issue and had nothing to do with the military. The new political map placed Indian territories of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh in Nepal and was seen as an effort by PM Oli to consolidate himself in the Nepal Communist Party government by whipping up ultra-nationalistic sentiments against India.
But he wasn’t able to build consensus around the new map among Nepal parties, many of them saw through his effort to invoke gorkha nationalism for personal gains, political sources in New Delhi and Kathmandu said. PM Oli, who has been facing problems within the ruling Nepal Communist Party, is seen to have prompted loud protests in Kathmandu this month at a 80-km stretch of road opened by India from Uttarakhand’s Dharchula to Lipulekh. He responded to this ‘public sentiment’ a few weeks later with a new political map that depicted Lipulekh and Kalapani as part of Nepalese territory. The map, released within a day of the cabinet approval, showed Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as part of Byas rural municipality in Nepal’s Sudurpaschim province. PM Oli had next raced to parliament to get its endorsement. But that plan appeared to have fallen apart after the main opposition party, Nepali Congress, made it clear that it could spell out its stand only after its Central Working Committee takes a decision.