Govt in fix over capitals, guvs as left alliance non-committal

Published On: January 13, 2018 07:57 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

KATHMANDU, Jan 13: The government is  in a fix over the appointment of governors and fixing of temporary capitals of the seven provinces as the left alliance of the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) is non-committal about forging an all-party consensus over these issues.

Apprehensive about  public reaction to the government’s unilateral decisions  in a sensitive issue like announcing the provincial capitals, the government wants a  green signal from the leftist parties before making the announcements. The government is taking its time as the left parties are non-committal toward forging a consensus despite the sensitivity of the issue, said a senior minister in the Deuba government.

The left alliance has declined not to take ownership of any decision by the government  and has also turned down requests by the prime minister for an all-party consensus, said another NC leader, who is considered a Deuba confidant. The left alliance, which  swept the recent parliamentary and provincial polls, has been pressing the government to decide the temporary capitals and leave  office. 

The government is also under pressure from the Election Commission   to take the decisions without  further delay. On Friday it urged the government to appoint the governors at the earliest, stating that it has been halted in the process of submitting the provincial assembly poll results to the governors. 

“Taking unilateral decisions  in such a sensitive issue will not be  wise for a  government which  lost its majority in  recent elections,” said NC leader Bal Krishna Khand. “As the left alliance, which  swept  the recent polls, declined talks for a consensus on this issue, the task of fixing capitals and appointing governors couldn’t make any progress.”

A  minister in the Deuba government said that the government is in a fix as both UML and the Maoists have refrained from being involved in this decision making. 

“Maoist ministers quit the government on the same day (Friday) the government was all set to appoint the governors,” Agriculture Minister Ram Krishna Yadav told Republica. He was of the view that the Maoist ministers, who remained in the government for nearly three months even after being deprived of their portfolios, quit the government just to corner the government over the issue of  temporary capitals and governors. 

According to sources, the prime minister had planned to recommend the names of the governors to the president  from the cabinet meeting on Friday. But the abrupt decision of the Maoist ministers to quit the government forced him to hold back. 

Before quitting the government, they were privately pressing the prime minister to announce  certain cities as capitals  and certain individuals as governors, said another minister. 

“All the parties are afraid of the outcome of any decisions on fixing the capitals as protests have already erupted in several districts,” said a senior minister. 

NC leader Khand said that although the government had planned to take decisions to this effect immediately after the polls, a warning from the left alliance  that they would not take the oath of office from  governors appointed by this government forced it to refrain. 

“Later, they gave their nod to the government to appoint the governors and fix the capitals but declined to take ownership even if the prime minister was ready to take the decisions under all-party consensus,” added Khand.

The government had planned not to fix the temporary capitals and leave the task to the provincial assemblies, but it again started preparations for the task  after the president and some constitutional experts suggested that the resulting vacuum may cause  further tension and uncertainty in the country. According to party leaders, if the government didn’t fix the temporary capitals now, the provincial assemblies might fail to take the decisions for years to come as they might not be able  to garner a two-thirds majority in favor of any particular city. 

“If the provincial assemblies fail to garner a two-thirds majority in favor of any city--as two or more cites are being proposed as capitals in each province--the provincial assemblies could remain in Kathmandu for years,” said a senior minister requesting not to be named. Article 288 (3) of the constitution has stated that a provincial assembly can change the temporary provincial capital only through a two-thirds majority of the  assembly.

Proposed names for governors
A senior minister claimed that the government has readied the names of the governors for all the provinces and will take a decision soon if the left alliance  declines to give its nod despite repeated requests. According to him, Anuradha Koirala, Dolakh Bahadur Gurung, Rukmangat Katwal, Puskar Bajracharya, Surendra Mahato, Jagdish Chandra Pokharel and Bimal Prasad Koirala have been proposed as governors of the seven provinces.

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