Kathmandu has issued a clarification over Nepal prime minister KP Sharma Oli’s controversial claim that Hindu deity Ram was born in the Himalayan country and the real Ayodhya, believed to be his birthplace, was not located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh but was in Nepal. His claims have been widely condemned both in Nepal and India.
A statement from Nepal’s foreign ministry said Oli’s remarks were not political and not meant to disrespect Ayodhya and its significance.
“Remarks made by the prime minister are not linked to any political subject and have no intention to hurt the feelings and sentiments of anyone,” the Nepal foreign ministry’s statement said and added that “the remarks were not meant to debasing the significance of Ayodhya and the cultural value it bears”.
Relations between New Delhi and Kathmandu have recently worsened due to a territorial claim pressed by Oli, which he got endorsed by the country’s parliament through a constitutional amendment. India has rejected Nepal’s claim as untenable and as without any historical evidence or basis.
While Oli’s unexpected territorial claim followed by allegations that India was behind moves to have him dethroned have been rejected by New Delhi, some have looked at it with suspicion even in Nepal, accusing Oli of playing the India card to hide his own government’s alleged failures.
Oli’s recent claim about Lord Rama, too, has drawn sharp reactions from both inside India and Nepal.
Former Nepal PM Baburam Bhattarai had tweeted yesterday to suggest that Oli’s claim was outlandish. “Let’s listen to the new Ramayana of the half-poet Olikrit Kali Yugin! Let’s travel directly to Baikunthadham!” he had said questioning Oli’s credentials on the subject.
He was also slammed by Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who on Tuesday, said that such a statement shows Oli’s “mental bankruptcy”.
“Oli Ji should know that Nepal has also been a part of Aryavarta (India) in the past,” he added.
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said Oli was “parroting” lines scripted by the “desperate” Chinese. He was referring to Oli’s strong backing by China.
The Nepal foreign ministry’s clarification further tried to contain the damage by claiming that Oli was simply trying to highlight the importance of further studies and research to understand the vastness of Ramayana.
“As there have been several myths and references about Shri Ram and the places associated with him, the PM was simply highlighting the importance of further studies and research of the vast cultural geography the Ramayana represents, to obtain facts about Shri Ram, Ramayana and the various places linked to this rich civilization,” it said.
Oli had not only questioned the geographical references in Ramayana but had also blamed India of alleged cultural encroachment by “creating a fake Ayodhya.”
“Although real Ayodhya lies at Thori, a city in the west of Birgunj, India has claimed that Lord Rama was born there. Due to these continuous claims even we have believed that deity Sita got married to Prince Rama of India. However, in reality, Ayodhya is a village lying west of Birgunj,” Oli had said.
Going further, he wanted to know if it was even possible for Lord Rama to travel to Janakpur to marry Sita when there were “no means” of communication.