KATHMANDU, Dec 18: Shankar Pokharel, chief minister (CM) of Province 5, has asked the leadership of his political party to instruct lower-level party committees about deciding the name of the province and the location of its capital.
Pokharel, who is a standing committee member of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, argues that the choice of province name and its capital are entirely political issues and has demanded instructions in this connection from the party leadership.
“Even though it is up to the provincial assembly to decide the name of the province and its capital, these are generally political issues,” said Pokharel, commenting in writing on the political report presented by the party chiefs at the NCP Standing Committee meeting. “Given this context, it would be wise if the party leadership duly instructs the lower committees, considering the views of local people.”
Pokharel has argued that naming the province and its capital will invite divisions in the long run and stressed the need for instructions from the central leadership to mobilize the provincial party organization for resolving any dispute that emerges at local level.
Pokharel, in his capacity as chief of the provincial government, has been unable to name the province and determine its capital. Local leaders are divided mainly over whether to name Butwal or Dang Valley as the provincial capital.
Leaders at local and central levels have also been sharply divided over the provincial capital. Party General Secretary Bishnu Paudel and Standing Committee members Pradeep Gyawali, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Ghanshyam Bhusal, Pampha Bhusal and Gokarna Bista among others are for Butwal. Pokharel, Yuvaraj Gyawali and Bamdev Gautam are among those in favor of Dang Valley as provincial capital.
A majority of locals, however, are in favor of naming Dang Valley as provincial capital, pointing out that Butwal is less accessible.
Of the seven provinces, provinces 1, 2, 3 and 5 have been struggling just to finalize their names and their respective provincial capitals. Province 4 has been named Gandaki Province, Province 6 Karnali Province and Province 7 Sudur Paschim, and their capitals are Pokhara, Surkhet and Dhangadhi respectively.
The failure to finalize even the names of all the provinces and their capitals has been widely criticized.