Govt plans to leave fixing provincial capitals for provincial assemblies

Published On: January 7, 2018 01:46 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

 Provincial assembly meetings likely to be held in Kathmandu until capitals are decided

KATHMANDU, Jan 6: In a bid to avoid potential tension and protests over provincial capitals, the government has planned not to fix the provincial capitals and leave the task for the provincial assemblies, said a senior government minister on Saturday. 

Alerted by strikes and protests in various districts including Dhankuta, Dipayal, Birjung, Jumla demanding provincial capitals in the districts, the government has been mulling to skip the task. According to Commerce Minister Min Bahadur Biswakarma, the government is unlikely to fix the capitals keeping in view the protests erupted in various cities and the mum of the left alliance. 

“We tried to seek all-party consensus on fixing the provincial capitals as the issue is already sparking protests in many districts but left alliance parties avoided to take the ownership of this task. If the parties who have won most seats in the fresh elections don't want to get involved in this decision, the government, which has lost majority after the elections, has planned to leave the responsibility to the provincial assemblies,” said Biswakarma. 

UML had refrained from providing any suggestion about provincial capitals and asked the government to take the decision on fixing provincial capitals and appointing governors on its own following the constitutional and legal procedures in a meeting convened by the prime minister last week. 

The government has, however, planned to recommend names of governors for all seven provinces through a cabinet meeting on Monday, he said. The president will appoint the governors, who will have responsibilities similar to those of the as president in the provinces, upon the government's recommendation according to the constitution.

“We have thought that the provincial assemblies can held their meetings in Kathmandu until they finalize the provincial capitals, but further decision on the matter will be taken after we appoint the governors first,” said Minister Biswakarma.

The left alliance has termed the government's plan of not fixing the provincial capitals as 'incompetence' and warned that it could invite further complications. 

“This is the government's incompetence. The government could have persuaded the people that this will be only temporary and capitals will be fixed as decided by the provincial assemblies,” said UML secretary Pradeep Gyawali.

UML has accused the government of running away from challenges instead of institutionalizing the federal structure in the country. The country had held the elections to provincial assemblies for the first time in two phases - November 26 and December 7 last year - across the country after enacting the new constitution with seven federal provinces. 

Article 288 (2) of the constitution states that 'the capital of a province under this constitution shall be as decided by a two-thirds majority of the number of the then members of the concerned Provincial Assembly.' However the article has further explained that the government can fix temporary capitals to conduct the business of provinces until the provincial capitals are decided by the assemblies concerned.

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