PM’s Province 3 PA address draws flak

Kathmandu, June 4

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s address to Province 3 Provincial Assembly has drawn flak from opposition parties and federalism experts.

Constitutional expert Purna Man Shakya said while the option of PM addressing a provincial assembly may not be ruled out, such an option should be an exception rather than a norm.

He added that if Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli kept addressing provincial assemblies, as a rule, that could give a message to the public that the central government was trying to bring the provincial government under its control.

He said provincial governments were free to take decisions as per their mandate and no authority had the power to control them on matters of their domain.

Radhe Shyam Adhikari, a Nepali Congress lawmaker in the Upper House, who is also a senior advocate, said there was no rationale behind the PM addressing a provincial assembly.

“Provinces and even local governments are free to take decisions. The PM can urge governments for cooperation but on other matters, all the governments are free to take their own decisions,” Adhikari said. Oli’s address to a provincial assembly is driven by a desire to control all governments, he claimed.

Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna, who is also a senior advocate, said in a federal structure it would be okay for the prime minister to hold discussions with chief ministers, but addressing provincial assemblies was not in conformity with the spirit of federalism. “The way the PM addressed Province 3 PA reflected his unitary mindset. The PM should know that chief ministers are not like former chiefs of district development committees,” he added.

Former vice-president of Nepal Bar Association Surendra Kumar Mahto said the PM, as guardian of the governments, was within his rights to address a provincial assembly if invited for the same, but he should not dictate terms to provincial assemblies.

Mahto, however, said the federal government had the power to issue directives to provincial governments on matters of national importance and on matters to be coordinated between provinces.

“I heard that the PM told Province 3 PA to name the province on the basis of consensus. He should not have said that, as the issue is for the provincial assembly to decide as per Article 295 of the constitution, which states that the provincial assemblies can name their provinces with the support of two-thirds majority of the House.

“The PM should have said that the provincial assembly should take a decision on the matter as per the constitutional provision,” he added.

Mahto said the PM should not dictate terms on issues listed as exclusive rights of provincial assemblies. “It is a political matter for the provinces to try to forge consensus on what should be the name of their provinces,” he added.