LAHAN, Feb 15: The consistent six-year-long struggle for federalism in Madhes materialized when the country adopted federal governance system two years ago. The people of Madhes who had long been chanting 'Ab ki bar, apan sarkar' (our government in place now) became overwhelmed. Be it the local representatives or the provincial cabinet, there were familiar faces everywhere. The appointment of Lal Babu Rauat as the chief minister of Province 2 elated one and all.
Two years down the line, people are not that happy about the service delivery by the government. They state that development and prosperity have not been impressive. However, analysts hesitate to remark the two years as a complete waste. In the two years, irrespective of the progress in terms of infrastructures and economic growth, the strengthening of federalism was the biggest achievement they say.
As per the government record, 18 percent of the population in province 2 is Dalit. The total population here is 900,000. Dalits had pinned their hopes for a better tomorrow on the new government.
On 11 November 2018, the cabinet of the provincial government passed 'Dalit Shashaktikaran Act 2075. As per the Act, Dalit students can study from the basic to the PhD levels for free. Similarly, they get a monthly allowance as well as a ration card. This benefits students of Dom, Mestar and Batar communities. The government is also mulling over including glorious stories of the people of Madhes in school curricula. Dalit friendly schools are underway. Ending the evil culture of untouchablity has been prioritized a motto of the provincial and local governments.
Another step towards institutionalizing federalism is the development regarding Federal Police Act. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Agni Sapkota has recently endorsed the Act formulated by Province 2. After due process, it can be enacted. Public Service Commission has also been formed under professor Surendra Yadav's chairmanship.
The government of province 2 has put the slogan 'Educate daughters, save daughters' forward as one of the best ways to save and empower daughters of Madhes. In view of the massive female foeticide in this part, newborn girls have been offered different kinds of supports including an insurance coverage of Rs 300,000.
Last year, the government had distributed 14,000 cycles to the female 8th graders in the province. According to CM Rauat, this support will be extended in the future.
A well known political analyst of Madhes, Tula Narayan Sah stated that it would not be an exaggeration to mark the last two years as 'the time taken to strengthen federalism'. "Even though the people's expectations in terms of development, prosperity or employment were not met, we cannot undermine the fixing of the federalism done in the meantime," he said.
According to Sah, the people are frustrated as they could not sense all that much transparency and good governance. This is indeed a failure of the rulers. And they certainly have to improve on this. "But in terms of institutionalizing federalism, right steps have been taken. Mainly, it was a very long demand of the people here and they will certainly own it," he stated.
In the current fiscal year, the government has not been able to spend more than 2.9 percent of the capital expenditure. This speaks volumes about the pace of the government.
"There are many pending works, and yet the government is not in a hurry.
At the end budget will freeze and development compromised," said Sah, adding that the people will develop frustration against federalism if things don't improve.