KATHMANDU, Aug 31: Major ruling coalition partner Nepali Congress (NC) has proposed new population criteria for the delineation of local units such as village councils and municipalities.
NC senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel proposed different criteria for the mountains, the hills and the Tarai-Madhes region for delineating local units, during a meeting of the major three political parties at Baluwatar on Tuesday. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had summoned the meeting of leaders from the NC, CPN (Maoist Center) and the main opposition CPN-UML to discuss local-level restructuring and constitution implementation, among other issues.
“I have suggested new population criteria for forming village councils in different regions of the country, which are 1,000 to 3,000 in the mountains, 10,000 in the hills and 15,000 to 20,000 in the Tarai-Madhes,” Paudel told Republica.
According to him, the number of local units would exceed 1,200 while delineating village councils on the basis of this population criteria.
The Local Level Restructuring Commission has proposed 565 local units, delineating a village council on the basis of a population of 10,000 to 15,000 in the mountains, 25,000 in the hills and 50,000 in Tarai-Madhes.
“Most of the political parties are for revising the number of local units, but we are yet to decide the tentative numbers," Paudel said, adding that some parties had proposed around 927 local units while some others are for even fewer.
CPN-UML leaders at the meeting insisted on owing the commission report, stating that the Constitution has empowered the commission with the authority to carry out this task. “We are for owing the numbers suggested by the commission, whatever the commission proposes,” said UML Vice Chairman Kiran Gurung.
Maoist Center leaders for their part proposed delineating around the same number of local units as now exist.
“We won't stick to definite numbers, this could be finalized through discussions among political parties,” Maoist leader and Finance Minister Mahara said at the meeting.
The main opposition UML demanded announcement of the date for local elections.
Finance Minister Mahara also urged the UML to help in endorsing the pending budget-related bills in the House. In response, UML leaders said that the party was not in any mood to obstruct bills if these followed norms and procedures.
Nidhi, Rawal in heated exchange
The three-party meeting at the prime minister's residence on Tuesday witnessed a heated debate between NC leader and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi and UML Vice Chairman and former home minister Bhim Rawal.
Rawal had expressed his objection to the statement issued by the Nepali Embassy during Nidhi's recent India visit. “The statement reads that the Nepali and Indian sides also discussed constitution amendment issues. Why did the government envoy discussed our internal matters with the government of another country?” UML Vice Chairman Kiran Gurung quoted Rawal as saying at the meeting.
In response, Nidhi accused the UML of taking foreign aid during the constitution drafting process. “Following this, Rawal sought details of any such aid,” he said.