Choice of province capitals a big plank at hustings

Published On: November 10, 2017 06:32 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 10: Left alliance parliamentary candidate for Morang 6, Lal Babu Pandit, is promising voters that he will help make Biratnagar the capital of Province 1.

Alliance candidate Shiva Kumar Mandal for constituency 5 of the same district, who has now been rendered a minister without portfolio, announced that he would even fight it out in the cabinet to make Biratnagar the province capital.

Rastriya Prajatantrik Party (Democratic) candidate Sunil Bahadur Thapa, who is contesting for parliament from Dhankuta district, has likewise promised voters to help declare Dhankuta  the capital of Province 1. Thapa's campaign posters even solicit votes expressly to that end. 
And it is not just  in Province 1 that the candidates have vowed to make a city in their constituency the provincial capital. Left alliance candidates Shankar Pokharel and Krishna Bahadur Mahara in Province 5 have been pledging to make Tulsipur in Dang, the district from where they both are contesting the upcoming parliamentary polls, the capital of that  province. 

Interestingly, another leader of the same alliance, Bishnu Paudel in Rupandehi 2, has also been quietly promising  voters to make Butwal the  Province 5 capital.

Likewise, RPP leader Kamal Thapa, who is contesting the parliamentary poll from Makawanpur 1, has promised to make his hometown of Hetauda the capital of Province 3. The first promise that a joint commitment paper of  RPP and the Nepali Congress (NC) makes is declaring Hetauda the provincial capital. The paper was unveiled Thursday
These are just a few examples how the choice of province capital has dominated all the election campaigning. Although the constitution empowers the provincial assembly concerned to choose the provincial capital, the contestants of both parliamentary and provincial assembly polls have made this an important plank in their campaigning.

Political observers say the choice of provincial capital has become the most important plank for poll candidates  this time because of its emotional appeal among voters. 
Political analyst Nilamber Acharya said it is natural for poll candidates to make such promises before the people. "I think we should not take this amiss. It is an issue that needs to be debated widely among people's representatives and intellectuals of the regions concerned," he further said. 

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. Janakpur, Pokhara and Surket have been recommended as possible provincial capitals for Province 2, 4 and 6 respectively, while two or more options have been suggested for the capitals of the other provinces. 

Biratnagar, Itahari and Dhankuta have been recommended as options for the provincial capital of Province 1, Banepa, Dhulikhel, Kathmandu Valley and Hetauda for the capital of Province 3, Tulsipur, Dang and Butwal for 5, and Dhangadhi and Dipayal for 7. 

As per  Article 288 (2) of the Constitution of Nepal, the capital of a province shall be decided by a two-thirds majority of members of the provincial assembly. The provincial assembly concerned needs to consider one of the options recommended by the Federal Administration Restructuring Committee while making its choice.

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