KATHMANDU, April 27: Amid differing positions of the three major parties on number of federal states in the new setup, the UCPN (Maoist) on Thursday proposed a 10-state federal model based primarily on ethnic identity. The Maoists propose to keep Chitwan district as a centrally-administered zone.
The proposal has, however, largely failed to impress the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML, which are averse to the idea of ethnicity-based federal states. These two parties have alleged that the proposal goes against the understanding reached at Hattiban Resort to limit the number of federal states to between 6 and 8.
According to UML leader Surendra Pandey, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal floated the 10-state model during a meeting of the three major parties and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) held at the Constituent Assembly (CA) building at New Baneshwor, Thursday afternoon.
The proposed federal states include Limbuwan-Mechi, Kirant-Koshi, Tamsaling-Indrawati, Newa-Bagmati, Tamuwan-Gandaki, Magarat-Dhaulagiri, Karnali, Seti-Mahakali, Tharuwan-Lumbini and Madhes-Birat. “We have proposed a federal model based on the reports of the CA´s thematic committee on state restructuring and State Restructuring Commission and the demands coming in from various quarters to ensure ethnic identity,” said Maoist leader Post Bahadur Bogati.
The Maoists propose to keep Dhankuta, Terhathum, the hill area of Morang, part of Sankhuwasabha and Dharan in the Limbuwan-Mechi federal state. Likewise, the Limbuwan region including areas lying from east of the Likhu River to the Arun River have been proposed for Kirant-Koshi.
While the Tamsaling-Indrawati federal state covers areas west from Ramechhap to the Budhi Gandaki, Newa-Bagmati will have Kathmandu Valley and Banepa and Dhulikhel.
The Maoist proposal keeps areas between Gorkha and the Kali Gandaki except the southern part of Tanahu in Tamuwan-Gandak, areas from the southern belt of Syangja to the west of Kali Gandaki and stretching up to Rukum district in Magarat-Dhaulagiri, and Bheri and Karnali zones in Karnali federal state.
Likewise, the Maoist proposal keeps Kanchanpur, the hill areas of Kailai and the entire northern part of Seti and Mahakali zones in Seti-Mahakali federal state, areas lying between Kanchanpur and Nawalparasi in Tharuwan-Lumbini state and all tarai districts east of Chitwan except the northern hills of Morang in Madhes-Birat.
Talking to media after the meeting, NC leader Dr Ram Sharan Mahat said the Maoist proposal mocks the very idea of federalism. “Though the proposal takes into account the identity of some ethnic groups, it utterly fails to take into account the economic viability of the federal states,” he said. “If we are to go for federal states based on ethnic identity, there could be more than 25 states.”
Dr Mahat said special consideration should be given to inter-relations between ethnicity and the economic aspect. “It seems the Maoists are not aware that the federal states would have to run on revenue collected from within their respective boundaries. The proposal is not acceptable,” he said.
Party leaders are to sit again for talks Friday afternoon after holding bilateral and trilateral meetings among the parties from morning. “We have decided to undertake necessary homework and discussions within the party before sitting for further talks with the Maoists Friday,” said NC CWC member Pushpa Bhusal.
UML leader Bhim Rawal, who is closely involved in inter-party negotiations, said the proposal is against the understanding reached at Hattiban Resort to have 6 to 8 states based on economic viability and identity.
Rawal alleged that the Maoists have backtracked by proposing 10 federal states, and almost all based on ethnic identity. The UML is scheduled to hold internal discussions to decide an official party stance on the Maoist proposal.
Leaders involved in negotiations said though the top party leaders were scheduled to put down in writing the agreements reached on judicial system, citizenship and electoral system, they could not do so as Thursday´s talks were concerned mainly with state restructuring. “The Maoists brought a new proposal with a plan to break up existing districts. We could not hold detailed discussions on other issues", said NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Paudel.