RAM KUMAR KAMAT/PRAKASH ACHARYA
KATHMANDU: The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) seem to have cajoled the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) into agreeing to more pradeshes than their previous stances of having only six to eight of them.
The UCPN-M, CPN-UML, NC and the UDMF today failed to reach agreement, but it appears they could end up carving out 10 to 12 pradeshes.
The four forces will be meeting at 7:00 am tomorrow. A source claimed that consensus would be reached on the thorny issues of federalism and forms of governance then.
UCPN-M negotiator Dev Gurung, close to hardline faction leader Mohan Baidhya, said the convergence of views between his party, UML and UDMF on the issue of federalism and forms of governance had become greater.
“Now, only the Congress stance on forms of governance and federalism continues to remain different,” Gurung said after the meeting held at the Special Committee office in New Baneshwor.
Congress leaders held a separate meeting to chalk out strategies on the pradeshes to be formed and
the forms of governance to be adopted and
decided to agree to 10 to 12 pradeshes.
The NC rider on the issue, however was that the there should be agreement on keeping the existing 75 districts in the country intact, said Congress leader Gopal Man Shrestha.
Gurung said there was growing realisation during the negotiations that the mixed model would be the best option in relation to the issue of forms of governance.
“The rights and powers of the President and Prime Minister are however yet to be finalised,” he added.
Gurung said the media report that the UCPN-M was in favour of having 10 pradeshes was wrong because his party still continued to favour the idea of the country having 14 pradeshes.
UML negotiator Bhim Rawal said his party as well as the other negotiators had agreed to be flexible on the possibility of forming six to 12 pradeshes because that was a better proposition given the risk of continued political instability the country would have to suffer.
“We prefer to have pradeshes on the basis of identity and economic capability. However, while choosing identity-based federalism we should do it in a way that will strengthen national unity, and not promote ethnic discord,” Rawal clarified. He also added, “If we want to have directly elected president then we will have to strengthen the parliament.”
NC negotiator Ramesh Lekhak said his party did not believe that the mixed model of governance would work better but might go for it if all parties agreed to give more power to the Cabinet in case there was directly elected president.
“If the President can be impeached from the parliament and political rights rests with parliament, then we might go for mixed model, otherwise
we will decide the issue through voting in the Cosntituent Assembly,”
Lekhak added. Lekhak said his party was not opposed to identity-based federalism, but the boundary of a Pradesh should not be confined to areas of a particular ethnic community.
A Congress source also said the final authority to give names to the pradeshes should rest with the respective Pradesh sabhas.