On June 7, 2023, the Prime Minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, aka Prachanda, defended the ‘Akhand Bharat’ Map placed in the new parliament building amid ongoing criticism by the opposition parties in Nepal.
The opposition parties of Nepal, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) CPN-MUL, have strongly opposed the map as it shows the entire territory of the Himalayan nation as a part of India. They have asked the government in Kathmandu to take up the matter with India.
Addressing the National Assembly on June 7, 2023, Prachanda said that it was not a political map. He raised this issue during his recently concluded visit from India, where he met PM Narendra Modi and other top leaders.
“We raised this issue of the new Indian Map placed in the new parliament building. We have not made a detailed study as reported in the media, we raised this issue on a serious note. But in its response, the Indian side said that it was a cultural and historic map and not a political one. This should not be seen in a political way. It needs to be studied. But I have raised it,” he said.
Prachanda has been facing continuous fire from the opposition parties in Nepal who say that the India visit was not productive and successful as the Prime Minister has claimed otherwise.
Akhand Bharat refers to the concept of an undivided India whose geographical expanse in the ancient past is said to have reached up to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.
The concept of Akhand Bharat is based on the Vedic Ideal of “Rashtra” or Great India. During the ancient period, this concept was propagated by Chanakya or Kautilya, the author of the Arthashastra and the chief advisor of Chandragupta Maurya.
In modern India, Swami Vivekananda was the chief exponent who highlighted the concept internationally through the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago (1892).
The goal of Akhand Bharat is to create a unified India based on shared cultural values and traditions. It is also considered to be an attempt of India to regain its existing territories under the banner of the Hindutva Ideology.
It was later pitched by the Hindu Mahasabha leader and RSS ideologue, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar at the Mahasabha 19th Annual session in 1937.
Several agreements and understandings were reached during the visit. The opposition party leaders in Nepal have been mocking the bringing of fifteen Murrah Buffaloes from India for breeding purposes and termed it as the only successful objective during the visit.
Prachanda is facing strong opposition to his proposal to swap land with India in order to resolve the boundary dispute. Citing suggestions from experts, he said that Nepal and India could swap the land like what India and Bangladesh did in a land-swapping agreement in 2015.
Some experts suggest that Nepal can take the Chicken’s Neck that connects India with the North East and Bangladesh in order to resolve the boundary dispute in Kalapani, Limpiyadhura, and Lipulekh
The boundary disputes have been taking place in the areas which are currently in the Indian territory, But the Nepali side has been claiming it as its territory for long. In response to the Indian claims, the Nepal government 2020 issued a new political map incorporating Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura as a part of its territory.
The dispute has brought the bilateral ties to an all-time low.
“From the 1950s to the boundary row, during my visit to India, we discussed several issues that matter to us. We want to resolve disputes and differences through diplomatic talks and engagements, and for that, we need trust.”