KATHMANDU, Dec 24: With the government delaying to fix the temporary provincial capitals in the seven provinces, leaders and cadres from across the political spectrum have started lobbying for making their hometowns as provincial capitals.
The debate over capitals in many provinces has mainly divided CPN-UML leaders, which has emerged the largest political party in the recently-held provincial assembly, parliamentary and local level elections.
UML Secretary Shankar Pokhrel and Deputy General Secretary Bishnu Paudel have been sharply divided over the capital of Province-5. Pokharel, who is also projected as the chief minister candidate of the UML in Province 5, has been demanding to declare his home town Dang as the provincial capital, while former finance minister Bishnu Paudel has been lobbying for Butwal as the capital of the province, which is also his hometown.
CPN (Maoist Center) influential leaders Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who was elected from Dang for the central parliament is also backing Pokharel's demand to declare Dang as the provincial capital, while some other Maoist leaders are demanding to declare Butwal as the provincial capital. Local politicians of Kapilvastu district have staged peaceful rallies demanding that Kapilvastu be declared the provincial capital.
As the influential leaders of the major parties are divided over the provincial capitals, fixing the provincial capitals has become a tough task for the government.
The constitution has given the right to the government to declare the temporary provincial capitals. Article 288 of the statute states that the business of a province shall be conducted through a place specified by the government until the final decision regarding the provincial capital is made.
The constitution has further mentioned that a two-thirds majority of the provincial assemblies can change their capitals. “The capital of a province under this constitution shall be as decided by a two-thirds majority of the number of the members of the concerned provincial assembly,” reads the same Article.
A high-powered Federal Administration Restructuring Committee formed by the government had earlier recommended 15 cities out of which the seven provincial capitals will be chosen. The committee has suggested Pokhara as the capital of Province-4, Surket for Province-6 and Janakpur for Province-2. But the committee has also suggested multiple cities as the capitals of the remaining four provinces.
Also, UML leaders Rajendra Rai and Lal Babu Pandit have started separate lobbies for the provincial capital of Province 1. Rai has led the campaign demanding Dhankuta be declared the provincial capital while former minister Pandit has been voicing for Biratnagar as the provincial capital. Some UML leaders are also for declaring Itahari or Dharan of Sunsari and some are for Gothgaun of Morang as the capital of the Province 1.
A similar division has surfaced in Province 2 as well. Leaders of two major forces in the province -- Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) are divided over whether Birgunj or Janakpur should be the provincial capital of Province 2. Some leaders have demanded that the provincial capital should be in Sarlahi or Mahhottari district.
UML leader and former minister Mahesh Basnet also said that Bhaktapur should he declared the provincial capital of Province 3. While other UML leaders are lobbying for creating the provincial capital in Kavre district.
The leaders are also divided over the capital of Province 7. While leaders from the hilly parts of the province are lobbying for Dipayal as the capital of the province, leaders from the southern plain districts of Kailali and Kanchanpur are demanding that the cities near their areas be declared the capital.