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India Downplays Issue Of Mural In New Parliament Building

The mural triggered a controversy in Nepal as it is being interpreted as a map of 'Akhand Bharat' comprising parts of several neighbouring countries.

Inauguration of new Parliament building
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India on Friday downplayed the issue of a mural in the new Parliament building that has triggered some concerns in Nepal and Pakistan.

At a media briefing, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi described the mural as an artwork that depicted the spread of the prehistoric Ashokan empire. 

"The mural in question depicts the spread of the Ashokan empire and the idea of responsible and people-oriented governance that he (Ashoka) adopted and propagated," Bagchi said, replying to a question on the issue.

"That's what the plaque in front of the mural says. I really don't have anything further to add to that. I am certainly not going to comment on statements that other political leaders might have made," he said.

The mural triggered a controversy in Nepal as it is being interpreted as a map of 'Akhand Bharat' comprising parts of several neighbouring countries.

The mural in the new Parliament building marks important kingdoms and cities of the past, and shows the influence of ancient India in the then Taxila, in present-day Pakistan. 

Several political leaders in Nepal reacted strongly to the mural and some of them even asked Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' to raise the issue with New Delhi. 

The Nepalese prime minister is currently on a visit to India.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said on Thursday that the mural issue was not raised by the Nepalese prime minister during his talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

Bagchi said he was not aware whether protests were going on in Nepal over the matter.

Nepal's former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai on Tuesday said that the 'Akhand Bharat' mural in the new Parliament building depicting the influence of ancient Indian thought in its immediate neighbourhood may cause unnecessary diplomatic disputes.

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