ARJUN BHANDARI/RAM K KAMAT
KATHMANDU: Unified CPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal today came up with a new proposal on carving out federal units on ‘identity basis’, backed by the United Democratic Madhesi Front.
But the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML opposed it, saying the new proposal ignored their ‘economic capability’, which is one of the criteria of carving out the federal units.
NC and UML leaders, emerging from the hours-long bi- and multi-lateral meetings, held on the Constituent Assembly premises, Baneshwor, said the Maoist side proposed 10 federal units on identity of particular communities. The Maoist side has proposed eight pradeshes in hill and mountain regions and two pradeshes in the Tarai and Madhes.
UML leader Surendra Pandey, who briefed the media about the Maoist proposal, said the Maoist leadership proposed that Chitwan district and eastern part of Nawalparasi be governed by the federal government. Pandey said the Maoists were unclear about whether Jhapa district will fall under the proposed Limbuwan-Mechi Pradesh or under the proposed Madhes-Birat Pradesh.
But a Maoist source claimed that Jhapa will belong to the Limbuwan-Mechi Pradesh and entire Kanchanpur district will fall under the proposed Seti-Mahakali Pradesh. Sources also said ‘special autonomous regions’ will be created to address concerns of the Sherpa and the Lama (Jadan) communities.
Pandey said his party’s CC meeting scheduled for tomorrow will come up with an official position on the proposal. NC leader Ram Sharan Mahat said Maoists’ new proposal was a ‘mockery’ in the name of federalism. “The proposal has emphasised only on identity of certain communities, not on economic capability,” said Mahat, adding that his party will reject it. Post Bahadur Bogati, a Maoist leader, said identity must be the priority. Minendra Rijal, an NC leader, said they had proposed carving out one pradesh combining the existing Mechi and Koshi zones, where Tarai districts of Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari are located and another pradesh combining Seti and Mahakai Zones, where Tarai districts of Kailali and Kanchanpur are located. He said there could be three to four pradeshes in the hills and mountain.
MJF-Democratic leader Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, backing the Maoist proposal, said the proposed number of federal units would not derail the constitution-drafting process as it had taken into consideration communities’ identities, economic capability, geography, culture and language.