New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday brushed aside the controversy over the purported ‘Akhand Bharat’ map in the new Parliament building, saying that it’s not a political issue and friendly nations like Nepal have understood India’s explanation, however a nation like Pakistan does not have the capability to understand it.
The minister said this in response to a question on the issue being raised in friendly neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bangladesh.
“The (external affairs ministry) spokesperson (Arindam Bagchi) has already explained that the map depicts the spread of the Ashokan empire,” Jaishankar said when asked about the controversy over it.
To a supplementary question on whether the explanation remained the same for both friendly nations like Nepal as well as not so friendly nations like Pakistan, the minister quipped, “I don’t think it is a political issue. Friendly nations have understood it. Pakistan does not have the capability to understand it.”
Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, who had visited India last week, was asked about the map on his return.
On Wednesday, Prachanda told the National Assembly that the map was not political and he had raised the issue during his recently concluded India visit, during which he met his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and other top leaders.
“We raised the issue of the new Indian map which is placed in Parliament. We have not made a detailed study but as reported in the media, we raised this issue on a serious note. But in its response, the Indian side said 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,” Prachanda said.
Last week the controversy over the map raged, as some BJP leaders including parliamentary affairs as well as coal and mines minister Pralhad Joshi alluded it to the depiction of ‘Akhand Bharat’ or unified India.
The external affairs ministry also had to give a clarification on it, after questions were asked about the map not going down well in countries like Nepal and Pakistan.
“The mural in question depicts the spread of the Ashokan empire and the idea of responsible and people-oriented governance that (Emperor Ashoka) adopted and propagated,” Bagchi had said in response to questions on the map last week.
“That’s what the mural and the plaque in front of the mural says. I really don’t have anything further to add to that. I’m certainly not going to comment on statements that other political leaders might have made,” he had added.