Provincial capital, a challenge for leaders

Published On: August 1, 2019 05:30 AM NPT By: Devendra Basnet

DANG, Aug 1: When Krishna Chaudhary of Bardiya got elected to the post of Provincial Assembly member, one of her major agenda was to fix the provincial capital in a place convenient for majority of people.

The constitution has vested the power to decide the provincial capital to the Provincial Assembly. Chaudhary was later elected as the deputy speaker of the Provincial Assembly, a key post of the legislature. With this position, people from her constituency in Bardiya district had great expectations from her regarding this issue.

The Provincial Assembly had initially proposed the name of Butwal as the capital of Province 5 but the proposal has not been finalized yet, nearly two years after the election.

The people of Bardiya have taken this as a betrayal of their votes.

“It is true that the Provincial Assembly has taken too long to fix the permanent capital of the province,” said Chaudhary. “It is a genuine concern and dissatisfaction of the voters is because it took unusually long time to fix the capital.”

Deputy Speaker Chaudhary said that the eight different task forces formed to study and recommend suggestions on the permanent capital are working rigorously and that the issue will be concluded soon.

The people of Baridya, which is in the western part of the province, aren't ready to accept Butwal, which lies in the eastern part, as the permanent capital.

Activists in Baridya have been threatening that if the provincial capital isn't shifted westward from Butwal, they would rather lobby to merge Bardiya district with Karnali Province.

Provincial Assembly lawmaker Arjun Kumar Shrestha had assured his voters to lobby for fixing Dang as the capital of Province 5. Now, people have started exerting pressure on him to fulfill his promises.

“We are under tremendous pressure from the voters. We have been pacifying their anger so far,” he said.

Amar Bahadur Dangi's major election agenda was to fix the capital in Dang. Now he has no answer when his voters ask him as to why they couldn't shift the capital from Butwal to Dang.

“Dang is the perfect place for the capital. Therefore, the public concern about this is very natural,” he said.

Many candidates made promises of fixing the provincial capital in the cities near their constituency. But now, it has become challenging for the lawmakers to give a convincing answer to the voters.

Province 5 has also failed to finalize its name as well while three other provinces namely Province 4, Province 6 and Province 7 have been named as Gandaki, Karnali and Sudur Paschim provinces respectively.

“This is an utter failure on the part of the provincial lawmakers that they have neither fixed the capital nor the name of the province so far,” said analyst Binod Pokharel. “People have started to question the ability of the leaders when they can't even fix the capital and the name of the province.” He termed it unfortunate.

Many local activists say that senior leaders including Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel and Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara will have to pay a heavy price for their failure to fix Dang as the provincial capital.

“These two leaders will have to pay a heavy price if they cannot play any role to make Dang the provincial capital,” said analyst Pokharel. “Because it was their election agenda.” Now Mahara and Pokharel are silent on this issue.

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