RAM KUMAR KAMAT / PRAKASH ACHARYA
KATHMANDU: ‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave’, said Walter Scott, Scottish novelist, poet, historian and biographer, about half a century ago. And it, as it appears, stands true for political parties here.
Major political forces — the Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the United Democratic Madhesi Front — that have been engaged in rigorous discussions to cut a deal on federalism were prevented today from reaching a consensus once again when the question of identity, not viability of the provinces to be carved out, bugged them out.
The UCPN-M and UDMF and the NC and UML held talks until midnight, but remained sharply divided over two key issues — federalism and forms of governance.
The UCPN-M and UDMF wanted to carve out pradeshes on the basis of a single dominant ethnic group, while NC and UML wanted to have names of pradeshes on the basis of multiple ethnic groups.
The NC and UML today forged a unanimous view on forms of governance, saying that President should be elected through electoral college and prime minister by Parliament, with Parliament having the political power, according to UML leader Bamdev Gautam and NC leader Arjun Narsingh KC.
NC and UML proposed to have either eight pradeshes with multiple identities or 11 pradeshes with non-ethnic identity, but the UCPN-M and UDMF flatly rejected. Although the UCPN-M and UDMF agreed on 11 pradeshes, they insisted that the basis should be single ethnic identity, according to Maoist leader Barshaman Pun.
“Our interim constitution says we are multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and multi -cultural country, and the same should be the basis for federalism,” said KC.
He said all the pradeshes, now being debated, were christened by the Maoists during insurgency, and his party cannot accept those names.
According to NC leader Bimalendra Nidhi, NC proposed to carve out four pradeshes in Madhes but the UCPN-M proposed to carve out three pradeshes in the Tarai.
“UDMF was not even ready to listen to our proposal of four pradeshes in Madhes,” added Nidhi. According to KC, UDMF said they could accept two pradeshes in Madhes, but not more than that.
UCPN-M negotiator Pun said his party was determined to go for identity-based federalism. “Unsettled issues could now be decided through voting,” he added, even as he expressed hope that consensus among parties was possible.
UDMF negotiator Hridayesh Tripathi made a scathing attack on NC and UML for their proposal. He said the NC and UML were not in favour of identity-based federalism. “They are hell-bent on establishing a disfigured federalism. They seem to have accepted federalism out of compulsion,” said Tripathi.
Earlier, UML had held its standing committee meeting which decided to go for seven pradeshes.
Although, the Constituent Assembly is slated to begin voting process at 3:00pm tomorrow, it is still not clear whether the voting will take place. There are 117 unsettled issues, but the Constitutional Committee is yet to finalise the number of issues to be put to vote.
Earlier this morning, a CC meeting had decided to take all the unresolved issues to vote tomorrow. “It seems what we have in our mind can be decided by 601 CA members themselves,” said Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal. But parties still do have time, like they say ‘when a man’s willing and eager, the gods join in’. The leader, at least to date, seem to be willing and eager.
PM briefs Prez on statute, politics
KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on Wednesday called on President Dr Ram Baran Yadav and briefed the latter on contemporary political issues, formation of the unity government that he is leading, the new constitution that is in the making and restructuring of the Nepali Army. “During the hourlong meeting, Prime Minister Bhattarai assured President Dr Yadav that the constitution will be promulgated by May 27,” said President’s press adviser Rajendra Dahal.