Provinces await center’s nod for their names, capitals

Published On: October 27, 2019 07:20 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Oct 27: After failing to forge consensus over the name and their capital city nearly for two years, four of the seven provinces have been awaiting nod from the central level leaders of major political parties to resolve these thorny issues. 

Nearly two years have passed by since Nepal held the election for provincial assembly under the new federal structure as envisioned by the new constitution promulgated in 2015. Four of the seven provinces have failed to pick their names and three of them their capital cities as there exist sharp differences among provincial leaders and assembly members. 

Province 2, Province 3 and Province 5 have yet to finalize their nomenclature and capital city both, while Province 1 picked its capital some six months ago, amid protest and discontent. Most of these provinces await nod of the central level leaders of the two major political parties -- ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) and Samajbadi Party Nepal and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal in case of Province 2. 

Although Province 1 finalized its capital as Biratnagar earlier in May, it has been struggling to pick its name, mainly due to the differences within the ruling and opposition parties over the issue. Members of the provincial assembly have been divided over proposed names of the provinces. While Sagarmatha, Kirat, Koshi and Limbuwan are the most discussed names for the province, Madhes, Mithila, Janakpur and Bhojpura are among the most discussed nomenclatures for Province 2. 

Chief Minister of Province 2 Lalbabu Raut has been lobbying for Madhes as name of the province since long. Although some members in the provincial assembly are lobbying to pick different city than the temporary capital Janakpur, according to leaders, the capital city is less likely to be changed. 

However, naming the province has become the bone of contention in Province 2. Addressing a recent function of the party, Samajbadi Party Chairman Upendra Yadav urged the provincial government to find its name and change the temporary name of Province 2. The province has formed a committee to recommend the name and capital for the province, but it has failed to make any headway on the issue. 

In case of Province 3, central level leaders of the ruling and opposition parties have been directly lobbying to relocate the provincial capital from Hetauda to Bhaktapur or Kavre district. But chief minister of the province Dormani Paudel is against the idea of changing the capital from Hetauda. Although the province has not held much discussion about its name, Bagmati, Nepal Mandal, Narayani and Gaurishankar are among the proposed names for this province.

Determining capital city has become a challenging task for Province 5 after some influential leaders of the ruling party are lobbying for two different cities for the capital. Chief Minister of the Province Shankar Pokhrel, who is also an influential leader in his party, has been lobbying to determine Dang as the capital city, while NCP General Secretary Bishnu Paudel is adamant to keep Butwal as the provincial capital. 

As there exist a sharp division among provincial assembly members on the issue, Province 5 has kept the issue of determining the permanent capital city on hold. Although Lumbini, Gautam Buddha and Tharuwan are some of the names proposed for Province 5, the Provincial Assembly has not discussed much about the names in any official forum so far.

However, Province 4 has already named itself as Gandaki Province and determined Pokhara as its capital city. Similarly, Province 6 has named itself as Karnali Province and determined Surkhet as its capital city. Similarly, Province 7 has picked its name as Sudur Pashchim and fixed its capital as Godavari.

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