Prime minister buys time to address provinces’ concernsProvincial governments press for speedy adjustment of the police force and passage of federal civil service law.
Provincial governments are starting to tire of the federal government’s continued reluctance to hand over requisite power and authority. Two more weeks and they could hit the streets to wrest their rights.
At the request of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the Madhesh Province has decided to give the federal government two weeks to readjust the police force and promulgate a federal civil service law.
An all-party team from Madhesh Province led by Chief Minister Saroj Kumar Yadav met Dahal on Sunday and reminded him of their ultimatum from last month. On November 9, a team of all-party representatives from Madhesh Province had issued a 30-day ultimatum to Dahal to address their six-point demand, warning of a protest if Kathmandu took no urgent steps to fully implement constitutional provisions for the smooth functioning of provinces. Dahal then had given his word to address the demands by the deadline, saying he would always support the mission to strengthen federalism.
As the deadline passed Sunday without the Dahal administration making good on the commitment, the chief minister-led team arrived in Kathmandu to nudge the prime minister to address their demand.
“We reminded the prime minister about our ultimatum and his promise. He asked us to wait for a few weeks, while promising to address our demands after consultations with all the parties,” Krishna Prasad Yadav, minister for infrastructure in the province, told the Post. “We have agreed to give him 15 more days.”
He also said they have clearly told the prime minister that they cannot wait any further. Cross-party leaders including Chief Minister Yadav have threatened to start nationwide protests against the federal government if it continues to dilly-dally to devolve the authority to the provinces.
The other six provinces also have joined hands with Madhesh to assert their constitutional rights. Only last month, internal affairs ministers from all the provinces met Dahal and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha to build pressure for the adjustment of the police force and to promulgate a federal civil service law.
On December 6, the Madhesh Provincial Assembly unanimously endorsed a resolution motion registered by the CPN-UML which says that provinces should be allowed to exercise all the authorities delegated to them by Schedule 6 of the Constitution of Nepal.
Saroj Kumar Yadav, UML’s chief whip in the province, said they have handed the resolution motion to the prime minister, expecting him to honour the decision of the sovereign assembly. Dahal, according to him, said that as the chief of the party that continuously fought for the provinces, he is serious about strengthening them.
“We have handed over the resolution motion to the chiefs of all the major parties seeking their support for the remedy of our concerns,” Yadav, the UML’s provincial chief whip, told the Post. “We hope the federal government will not seek further extensions of the deadline.”
All the provinces have endorsed provincial police laws to clear legal hurdles in managing their own police forces. However, they cannot set up police forces unless the federal government adjusts the existing police force at the provincial level. This has to happen as per the Police Personnel Adjustment Act and the Act to Govern the Operation, Supervision and Coordination of Nepal Police and Provincial Police Forces endorsed by Parliament in 2019.
The Police Personnel Adjustment Act authorises the federal government to assign a deputy inspector general of Nepal Police to serve as provincial police chief. The federal government can transfer such police officers to other provinces or any department of Nepal Police in consultation with the concerned provincial governments.
However, in case of other personnel adjusted to provincial police forces, the relevant provincial official can transfer such personnel to any police unit in the province. Ignoring repeated demands of the provinces, successive federal governments have hesitated to implement the Police Personnel Adjustment Act.
These governments also paid little attention to the passage of the Federal Civil Service Act. The provincial governments say the federal government should issue the law through an ordinance if it is not possible to immediately get it endorsed through the federal parliament. Currently, the federal parliament is not in session.
Eight years since the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal, the Civil Service Act is yet to be promulgated. The explicit responsibility to manage provincial police administration and provincial civil service rests with provincial governments, as per the statute.