Biplab Deb's 'BJP in Nepal' comment upsets Kathmandu, draws 'formal objection'
- Biplab Deb's remarks came against the backdrop of efforts by India and Nepal to mend ties that were hit by a border row last year.
Nepal has conveyed its “formal objection” to India over Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb’s remarks about expanding the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) influence to Sri Lanka and Nepal and forming governments there.
Deb, who is no stranger to controversy, created a flutter when he told an event held in Agartala on February 13 that Union home minister Amit Shah had purportedly talked about plans to expand the BJP's influence in neighbouring countries.
Responding to a tweet from a Nepalese citizen on Deb’s comments, Nepal’s foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali said on Tuesday, “Noted. Formal objection has been already conveyed.” Gyawali didn’t give details.
People familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity that Nepal’s ambassador in New Delhi, Nilamber Acharya, had spoken on phone with Arindam Bagchi, joint secretary (North) in the external affairs ministry, to convey Nepal’s reservations over the chief minister’s remarks and to seek clarification. Bagchi is responsible for relations with Nepal and Bhutan.
There was no immediate response from Indian officials on the matter. The external affairs ministry has not made any comment so far on the chief minister’s remarks.
While addressing the event in Agartala, Deb had referred to comments purportedly made by Shah during a visit to Tripura some time ago when he was the BJP president.
Video footage of the event showed Deb, who spoke in a mix of Bengali and Hindi, saying, “We were talking during a meeting at the state guest house when Ajay Jamwal (BJP's zonal secretary for the northeast) said the BJP was in a good position as it was in power in many states. In reply, Amit Shah said Sri Lanka and Nepal are still left. We have to take the party there and win there as well.”
Deb also spoke of purported plans to take the BJP to the “whole world”.
The chief minister’s remarks came against the backdrop of efforts by India and Nepal to mend ties that were hit by a border row last year. Nepal was irked when India opened a strategic road to Lipulekh on the border with China – a region claimed by Kathmandu. It responded by issuing a new map that showed the areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura, all within India, as Nepalese territories.
Back-to-back visits to Nepal by the Research and Analysis Wing and Indian Army chiefs and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla helped put ties back on an even keel. Foreign minister Gyawali travelled to New Delhi last month to co-chair a meeting of the bilateral joint commission with external affairs minister S Jaishankar.
The people cited above said both sides are keen on ensuring that the controversy over Deb’s remarks does not assume larger dimensions.
Deb’s remarks have also been widely reported in Sri Lanka though there has been no formal comment from Colombo so far.
Following criticism of Deb’s comments, the BJP said it has been spreading Indian culture and philosophy in different countries.
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