KATHMANDU, June 22: A standing committee meeting of the CPN-UML on Thursday proposed a seven-province state restructuring model based on the identities of multiple ethnic communities and neutral identities.
The proposed provinces are Kirant-Limbuwan-Koshi, Tamsaling-Newa-Bagmati, Magarat-Tamuwan-Gandaki, Bheri-Karnali, Seti-Mahakali, Tharuhat-Awadh-Lumbini and Mithila-Bhojpura-Janakpur.
The party´s top body has proposed that the task of delineation of provinces should be based on the suggestions from a constitutional commission comprising experts.
As per the standing committee´s proposal, the provinces should be multi-ethnic, multilingual and multicultural reflecting the diversity of Nepali society. "Citizens from all the ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural groups living in any province will enjoy equal political, economic, social and cultural rights," reads the proposal.
The party leadership has come up with a new proposal at a time when some of the influential UML leaders, including party Vice-chairman Ashok Rai, have been boycotting party meetings demanding that the party leadership stand for delineation and naming of provinces on the basis of ethnic identities.
The standing committee said the proposal was prepared on the basis of feedback received from the party´s national conclave that concluded on Tuesday. Around 500 party representatives from across the country participated in the two-day event.
However, the proposal was criticized at the party´s central committee (CC) meeting on Thursday. Most of the 15 members, who aired their views at the CC meeting, criticized the proposal for naming the provinces after the identities of ethnic communities.
According to party´s politburo member Raghuji Pant, most of those airing their views stood against the proposal to delineate and name provinces after some specific ethnic communities. "They said the provinces should be named after neutral identities [such as Lumbini, Sagarmatha, Bagmati] so that all the citizens living in the province would not feel alienated," Pant told Republica.
Bamdev Gautam, Raghubir Mahaseth, Nagendra Chaudhary, Khagraj Adhikari, Lalbabu Pandit, Astalaxmi Shakya, Parshu Meghi Gurung, Beduram Bhusal, Rajendra Pandey, Rameshwar Phuyal and Karna Thapa expressed their views at the meeting.
According to a participant, party Vice-chairman Gautam tried to convince the members on the proposal saying that the standing committee came up with the idea as a middle-path solution to pacify the dissident leaders within the party.
But the members were very much critical of the proposal, so much so that CC member Karna Thapa said the idea of transforming the country into a federation has been proven unsuitable for the country.
"If we name Kathmandu and its outskirts after Newa and Tamsaling, why not incorporate the identities of some other marginalized communities?" a member quoted Phuyal as saying at the meeting.
Also, other members suggested not naming provinces after ethnic identities.
Members lobby against CA reinstatement
A majority of those airing their views criticized the idea of reinstating the Constituent Assembly (CA) for a brief period to promulgate the new constitution.
Sources said a majority of the standing committee members were for seeking a fresh mandate. However, they differed over whether the new election should be for a CA or for electing a regular parliament.
They stressed the need for a national consensus government that can take initiatives for removing constitutional difficulties and amending relevant laws to hold elections.