KATHMANDU, May 9: With the political parties struggling to find a consensus model for federalism, the Nepali Congress (NC) has now floated a nine-province model, including four in the Tarai.
Deputy Prime Minister and NC General Secretary Krishna Sitauala and central members Minendra Rijal and Bimalendra Nidhi proposed the new mode for federalism during an informal meeting of the three major parties and the Madhesi parties on Tuesday evening, party leaders said.
The new NC model proposes five provinces in the hills and four in the Tarai. In the Tarai, they have proposed one province comprising Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari districts, and another comprising Saptari, Siraha, Sarlahi, Mahottari and Dhanusa. The third province comprises Bara, Parsa and Rautahat and the fourth includes districts from Nawalparasi to Bardiya.
Similarly, the proposed hill provinces are Kirat, Bagmati, Gandak-Dhaulagiri, Bheri-Karnalia and Seti-Mahakali.
“We proposed the model hoping it can be a meeting point among the parties,” said an NC leader participating in the meeting, on condition of anonymity.
But the leaders, while presenting their proposal, said the model was their ‘personal’ one. Earlier, the second largest party had proposed a seven-province model.
Leaders said the Maoist and Madhesi leaders strongly objected to the NC’s new model. While the Maoists adhered to their 10-province model, the Madhesi leaders said multiple provinces in the Tarai was not acceptable. The Madhesi leaders transferred their “One Madhes One Province” stance, according to another party leader.
Sources said that the CPN UML is closer to the NC-proposed model.
Though the parties were supposed to resolve the controversy over federalism and system of governance on Tuesday, they failed to do so as they showed no sign of compromise during their informal meeting held at the Special Committee secretariat in the evening.
“We are against restructuring the country on ethnic lines. They failed to yield any conclusion after the Maoist party stressed federalizing the country on ethnic lines and adhered to their 14-province model,” said NC parliamentary party leader Ram Chandra Paudel, emerging from the meeting.
Paudel also accused the Maoist party deviating from an understanding reached during the Hattiban talks last month. “The Maoists had agreed to six provinces but they are now sticking to a 14-rovince model,” Paudel further said.
But Maoist leaders said that the meeting failed as the NC and the CPN UML reiterated their seven province model. “We told them that we can compromise on a 10-province model (proposed by Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal last month),” Maoist vice-chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha told Republica.
Shrestha said that the parties are meeting Wednesday morning in their bid to resolve the outstanding issues of constitution making before the meeting of the subcommittee on dispute resolution under the Constitutional Committee. The parties’ revised deadline for resolving the issues expired Tuesday.
Shrestha said that the parties are likely to seek one more day from the Constitutional Committee of the Constituent Assembly to resolve contentious issues.