State restructuring panel submits report to CA chair

KATHMANDU: The Constituent Assembly Committee on State Restructuring and Distribution of State Power today submitted its concept paper and preliminary report to CA Chairman Subas Chandra Nembang.

Lokendra Bista, committee chairman, said his committee spent 13 months and seven days to prepare the concept paper and preliminary report, which has carved out 14 federal units based on ethnic/community identity. The committee passed the proposal of carving out 14 federal units on Wednesday. It also passed the proposal of autonomous region, special region and protected region for 23 minorities subject to further addition of other communities as well.

CA Chairman Nembang said it was encouraging that the SRDSP submitted its document on time set by the eighth amendment to the CA works schedule. He thanked all for giving their inputs for state restructuring. Nembang also urged all the political parties to focus their attention on drafting the new constitution on time.

Meanwhile, the Nepali Congress and the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum lodged their objections to the proposal of 14 federal units passed by the committee on a majority basis.

NC CA member Narahari Acharya, who is also a member of the SRDSP, said there were "legal" and "political" flaws while endorsing the 14 federal units. NC had asked the committee to present both the models - 14 and six federal units - to the full CA House to generate public debate on their relevance.

In its different opinion registered with the CA secretariat, NC stated that the list of 23 minority communities for the autonomous region was a publicity stunt and it was passed by a majority of vote without doing adequate groundwork.

It said having already guaranteed the proportional inclusiveness on the basis of ethnic/community and gender it was not necessary to give the ethnic community the "political pre-emptive right to rule," which will undermine the universal values of democracy. The NC CA members also opposed the concept of right to self-determination, which, they said, was defined by the Article 169 of the UN ILO in a different context. The right to self-determination is irrelevant in Nepal's context, NC CA members said.

Likewise, MJF co-president JP Gupta objected to the committee's decision to divide the entire Tarai-Madhes into two separate federal units, creating Narayani region as a buffer zone between the Mithila and Tharuwan states. Gupta said southern part of Chitwan district is historically a Tharu dominated region and it should have been included either in Mithila or in Tharuhat states. He said ethnicity was taken as basis of carving federal units in the Hills/Mountains while language was made a basis of doing the same in the Tarai-Madhes.

He said the Madhesi parties would have given a second thought to the proposal of 14 federal units, had the major parties agreed to shift the federal capital from Kathmandu to Chitwan, which lies in the middle of the country.

Gupta threatened to launch an agitation in the Madhes if the full CA House did not consider the hegemony of major parties in the CA. "We will wait till the CA takes its final decision on federalism. Then we will go to the people," he said.

Anil Kumar Jha, CA member of the Sadbhavana Party, argued that the entire Tarai-Madhes region should be carved out into a single federal unit as agreed upon with the government on February 28, 2008.