Nepal and India seem to be locked in a strange conflict of sorts.
Ties between the two nations have been somewhat strained in recent days, with Nepal having passed a Constitutional Amendment to redraw its political map and incorporate three strategically important area that India calls its own. For its part, India has termed that "artificial enlargement" as being "untenable".
There had also been an incident at the border wherein one person from Bihar had been killed and two others injured after a confrontation with the Nepal police took a violent turn.
And while it has been a couple of months since this incident, the discontent continues to simmer. Towards the end of June, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had made a cryptic reference to India while alleging that efforts were being made to oust him from office. More recently, there have been comments and counter comments pertaining to religious and spiritual leaders.
In July, days after asserting Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura belonged to Nepal, Oli said that Ayodhya lies in Nepal and that Lord Ram was a Nepali. With many incensed by the comments, the Foreign Affairs Ministry soon released a statement saying that the comments "are not linked to any political subject and have no intention at all to hurt the feeling and sentiment of anyone".
But this does not seem to have been a complete deterrent for the Prime Minister. On Sunday, a Hindustan Times report added that Oli had yet again reiterated his earlier comments, expressing conviction that Lord Ram had been born in Nepal's Ayodhyapuri.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli this week attempted to ignite a fresh row over Lord Ram’s birthplace, telling a delegation that he was convinced that Lord Ram was born in south Nepal’s Ayodhyapuri and not Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya. He made these comments to a delegation from Madi in Chitwan district on Saturday.
Now, on Sunday, the debate shifted to another religious figure, Gautam Buddha. The Nepal Foreign Ministry issued an official statement clarifying that it was a "well-established and undeniable fact proven by historical and archaeological evidence" that Gautam Buddha had been born in Nepal's Lumbini.
The Nepal government said that it was reacting to a recent statement made by External Affairs Minister of India, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. "It is true that Buddhism spread from Nepal to other parts of the world in the subsequent period. The matter remains beyond doubt and controversy and thus cannot be a subject of debate. The entire international community is aware of this."
This in turn prompted the Indian Foreign Ministry to issue a statement saying that Jaishankar's remarks had referred to the shared Buddhist heritage of the two countries. "There is no doubt that Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini, which is in Nepal," the body said.