Govt fixes temporary state HQs, guvs

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jan 18, 2018-

Amid dispute the government on Wednesday declared temporary headquarters of seven provinces and appointed provincial chiefs. The decision was not welcomed by the CPN-UML, who hinted that a new government under the left alliance would ring changes as per the constitutional mandate.

A Cabinet meeting held at Baluwatar on Wednesday decided to make Biratnagar temporary headquarters of Province 1 with Govinda Subba being appointed its chief. Janakpur has been announced the Province 2 capital with Ratneshwor Lal Kayastha as its chief; Hetauda has been declared the capital of Province 3 with Anuradha Koirala as its chief. 

The Cabinet has declared Pokhara the capital of Province 4 and appointed Baburam Kunwar as its provincial chief. Similarly, Butwal has been declared the capital of Province 5 with Umakanta Jha as its chief; Surkhet has been named the Province 6 capital with Durga Khanal as its provincial chief and Dhangadi has been fixed as the capital of Province 7 with Mohan Raj Malla as its chief.

As expected, it was far from plain sailing. The meeting, originally scheduled in the morning, was postponed due to disputes among key members of the Cabinet. It was only the second sitting that reached the decisions on provincial chiefs and fixing the provincial capitals.

Minister for Industry Sunil Bahadur Thapa was backing for Dhankuta as capital of Province 1, while Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Energy Kamal Thapa was throwing his weight behind Hetauda and held on to their respective positions.

Another Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar and Finance Minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki were backing Biratnagar as provincial capital of Province 1.  

A minister said that while the decisions on Pokhara and Janakpur were “quite straight forward”, the decision on Province 5 was tough. 

There have been disputes among top leaders of parties across the political spectrum were at odds over the choice of capital of Province—between Butwal and Dang. 

Senior UML leader and lawmaker from Rupandehi Bishnu Poudel, Nepali Congress leader Bal Krishna Khand, Chandra Bhandari, RPP leader and Health Minister Dipak Bohara, UML leader Pradip Gyawali and Maoist leader Top Bahadur Rayamaji were backing for Butwal, while senior Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara, senior UML leader Shankar Pokhrel, NC leader Dilli Chaudhary had been backing Dang. 

A majority of the NC and UML leaders in Province 6 were in favour of Surkhet, so the government did not face much hurdle while taking the decision, the minister said. 

In the case of Province 7, since Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and senior UML leader Bhim Rawal—political heavyweights in the Farwest—were both pitching for Dhangadi, it went without much ‘fuss’, sources said. 

Apart from Pokhara, all six provincial capitals are located in the Tarai. “We have tried to strike a fair balance in terms of geography, access to the people and among other factors,” said Commerce Minister Min Bishowkarma. 

The appointment of the provincial chiefs was shared among the Nepali Congress and two Madhes-based parties—Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal and Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal. The NC has picked Subba, Koirala, Kunwar, Khanal and Malla as provincial heads, while Kayasta represented the SSF-N party and Jha the 

RJP-N. 

“We don’t need to make any comment over the government’s choice of state chiefs and temporary capitals,” said UML Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai, accusing the Deuba-led government of using prerogatives that it did not have. “The incumbent government made its final decision. The next government will do needful as per the constitutional rights,” he said. 

The provincial chiefs will take oath of office and secrecy from President Bidya Devi Bhandari and will administer oath to the newly elected provincial parliamentarians in the temporary capitals.

Published: 18-01-2018 07:26

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