BIRATNAGAR, May 2: The rift within the ruling Nepal Communist Party’s (NCP) Province 1 provincial committee has further widened, with the provincial assembly members and cabinet members failing to agree on the name of the province and its permanent capital.
Chief Minister Sher Dhan Rai and members of his cabinet are lobbying for Biratnagar as the provincial capital whereas a majority of the NCP provincial assembly members want Itahari to be declared the capital.
Taking strong exception to the government’s proposal of Biratnagar as provincial capital, NCP provincial assembly members have started a signature campaign ahead of the provincial assembly meeting that begins Thursday. However, they have refused to admit publicly that there is a signature campaign underway.
NCP Provincial Assembly Member Laxman Tiwari claimed that a majority of the assembly members are in favor of not choosing Biratnagar. “A majority of us have already drawn the attention of the party leadership regarding this. We hope the leadership will listen,” he said.
According to sources, the provincial assembly members collected signatures to exert pressure on the party leadership during a secret meeting in Itahari that continued for three days. The NCP has 67 seats in the 93-member provincial assembly. Out of these 67 members, 37 are not in favor of Biratnagar.
High-level sources in the party have told Republica that Chief Minister Rai is mulling the imposition of a whip on the provincial assembly members if they continue to resist the party’s stand in favor of Biratnagar as provincial capital
NCP’s provincial committee in-charge Bhim Acharya has also expressed dissatisfaction over the choice of Biratnagar. The provincial government, despite objections from its provincial assembly members, is forwarding the name and permanent capital to the provincial assembly for endorsement. The provincial assembly is expected to give its endorsement within four days.