RAM KUMAR KAMAT
KATHMANDU: A day after the ruling Unified CPN-Maoist proposed to carve out 10 federal units, the Nepali Congress countered the former’s idea by proposing seven pradeshes but without names.
NC leader Arjun Narsingh KC said his party wanted the respective Pradesh Sabhas to decide the names of the provinces.
As per NC proposals, four hill provinces out of seven have access to Nepal-India border. Unlike UCPN-M, the NC does not seem to have proposed dividing the existing districts to the extent possible.
United Democratic Madhesi Front leader Hridayesh Tripathi was quick to flay the NC proposal, calling it ‘extremely anti-Madhes’.
NC negotiator Ramchandra Paudel said Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal told a meeting, held among the NC, CPN-UML, UCPN-M and UDMF, that his party’s official stance was for 14 provinces but he reduced it to 10 to find a compromise on federalism.
Leaders of the four political forces today also held talks, albeit briefly, as UML was busy with its own central committee meeting to discuss the federalism and forms of governance.
Paudel said his party’s proposal has taken into account identity and economic capability, interdependence of provinces and their geographical proximity, while proposing seven federal units.
“Federalism will succeed only if our proposal is accepted,” said Paudel, adding that the UCPN-M’s volte-face on federal units has further complicated the constitution-drafting process.
UDMF leader Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, after a meeting of the United Democratic Madhesi Front, said the Madhesi parties would in no way support the NC’s proposal. Gachhadar hinted that they could support the Maoist proposal as it may address Madhesi sentiment.
Meanwhile, United Democratic Madhesi Front today discussed the Maoist proposal for 10 pradeshes. Jitendra Dev, Spokesperson for the MJF-D, said UDMF was still committed to an autonomous Madhes Pradesh but was ready to discuss the issue on a model presented by the majority members of the State Restructuring Commission.