Three parties ink 7-state agreementRevising their previous deal on the number of federal states, three major parties on Friday decided to go for a seven-province model.
Revising their previous deal on the number of federal states, three major parties on Friday decided to go for a seven-province model.
The parties’ shift from six to seven provinces aims to pacify the ongoing protests in the Mid West and Karnali. The demand of Tharus, however, still remains unaddressed, according to leaders.
The UCPN (Maoist) agreed to go for seven states by registering its note of dissent, while the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik refused to be part of the new deal. MJF-Loktantrik, a signatory to the June 8 sixteen-point deal that forms the bedrock of the constitution drafting process, has detached itself from the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the UCPN (Maoist).
The three parties forged consensus on seven states and decided to complete the tasks of preparing the final constitution draft on Friday despite objections from the MFJ-L. The previously proposed Provinces 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 remain unchanged. However, the Thori Village Development Committee of Nawalparasi district, previously in Previous 2, has now been aligned with Province 3. Despite locals’ protests, Baglung and Rukum districts remain split.
The previous Province 6 has been split to create the seventh state. Cross-party leaders say the model will address the demands of the people in Karnali and the Far West. Dolpa, some parts of Rukum, Salyan, Surkhet, Jajarkot, Dailekh, Kalikot, Jumla, Humla and Mugu remain in Province 6, while Kailali, Kanchanpur, Doti, Dadeldhura, Achham, Bajura, Bajhang, Baitadi and Darchula form
Province 7. The MJF-L objected to the seven provinces saying that it does not address the Tharus’ demand. Gachhadar argued that the concerns of Madhesis and Tharus would not be addressed without going for eight states. He has demanded splitting Kailali in order to maintain the cluster of Tharus but NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and UML leader Bhim Rawal remained firm that the district should not be split. In the meeting, UCPN (Maoist) Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Gachhadar warned NC and UML leaders that there would be a lot of troubles in the coming days if the Tharus’ concerns were not addressed.
According to a leader, Gachhadar repeatedly said that he was ready to accept the joint proposal floated by the ruling NC and UML last year but he pressed for responding to the demands of the Tharus. UCPN (Maoist) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal registered his note of dissent for not addressing the demands of the Tharus and Magars but allowed the process to move forward.
“Madhesis and Tharus, who were rivals in the past, will now come together. This makes it very difficult to face the problem,” said Shrestha.
At the meeting of the Special Committee under the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (PDCC), Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, despite his personal differences, backed the agreement. Koirala
had not attended the meeting on Thursday, expressing his displeasure at the increasing number of provinces. In Friday’s meeting, he said he would not be a hurdle in the constitution drafting process.
Koirala walked out the meeting immediately after communicating his message. The UCPN (Maoist) called a meeting of its Standing Committee where the leaders supported the deal despite some reservations, mandating the chairman to sign the deal. According to a leader, NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel, UML Chairman KP Oli and Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had similar views on the delineation.
The parties, however, have not resolved other contentious issues such as religion, the provision of threshold and the reappointment of heads of constitutional bodies after constitution promulgation.
According to PDCC Chairman Baburam Bhattarai, the parties will continue their talks to resolve the issues. One way is through amendment bills in the CA. “If a cross-party agreement is not reached on these agendas, there will be voting to settle them,” said Bhattarai.
- Previously proposed Provinces 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 remain unchanged. Thori VDC of Nawalparasi, previously in Previous 2, has been aligned with Province 3.
- Despite locals’ protests, Baglung and Rukum districts remain split.
- Previous Province 6 has been split to create the seventh state.