Province 2 expedites process to fix its name and headquartersProvince could be named Madhes if CPN (Unified Socialist) backs the proposal.
The longstanding dispute over the name and headquarters of Province 2 is finally headed towards resolution as the provincial assembly has expedited the process to take a decision shortly.
While the parties have largely agreed on Janakpurdham for provincial headquarters, their differences over the name for the province has delayed the decision. Janata Samajbadi Party wants Province 2 to be named Madhes. Loktantrik Samajbadi Party and the CPN (Maoist Centre) have backed the proposal by the party that is leading the provincial government.
Nepali Congress, one of the ruling parties, has proposed Mithila-Bhojpura while the CPN-UML wants the province to be named Janaki. The CPN (Unified Socialist) backs the UML proposal. The then Nepal Communist Party (NCP) too had proposed Janaki as the name for the province. But after the NCP split—eventually into three parties, the Maoist Centre has backed the proposal of the two Madhes-based parties, thus increasing the possibility for the name Madhes.
Political parties held a series of discussions on the two issues last year. After efforts at consensus failed, the provincial assembly had announced that the name and headquarters would be decided through a vote on March 13, 2020. But the vote was deferred after the parties sought more time for discussion.
Twenty-one months later, a committee led by provincial Speaker Saroj Yadav was formed on Tuesday to discuss the issues and reach a conclusion. “We have two weeks to decide on the matter,” Sanjay Kumar Yadav, a member of the committee from the Jananta Samajbadi Party, told the Post. “We believe the decision will be taken through consensus. Or else we will go to a vote.” The committee on Thursday formed its working procedure with a plan to complete its task within the deadline.
The leaders from a cross-section of parties who are members in the Speaker-led committee say they have a common understanding that there should be no further delay in naming and fixing the provincial headquarters. Province 2 is the only province that remains undecided over both the name and the provincial headquarters. Province 1 has fixed its headquarters but is still struggling on a name. The remaining five provinces have already fixed their permanent headquarters and names.
Following a split in the NCP, the possibility of the province being named Madhes has grown stronger as the Maoist Centre has also thrown its weight behind Madhes.
The Janata Samajbadi Party has 39 provincial assembly members including Speaker and deputy Speaker in the provincial assembly while Loktantrik Samajbadi Party has 16 and the Moist Centre 8.
A two-thirds majority is necessary, as per the constitutional provision, to permanently fix the name and headquarters. The three parties have 63 members in the provincial assembly which is six votes short of a two-thirds majority.
A support of 69 provincial assembly members is necessary in the 104-strong assembly. The Speaker, however, can only cast a decisive vote.
The CPN (Unified Socialist) says it is flexible on the name. “We aren’t rigid on our proposal. There are grounds for a compromise,” Shatrudhan Mahato, a provincial assembly member from the Unified Socialist, told the Post. “Let us see how the discussions move ahead.”
The Unified Socialist has 13 members in the provincial assembly. The name Madhes Province will be swiftly endorsed if the Unified Socialist backs the name, even if another ruling party Nepali Congress and the opposition CPN-UML oppose the name. The Congress has 19 provincial assembly members while the UML has just eight.
“We are already late in naming and fixing the headquarters. Except for some provincial assembly members from Parsa district, others are ready for Janakpurdham as the headquarters. There are some differences over the name,” Surita Kumari Sah, a member of the committee from the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party, told the Post. “We must go for a vote if there is no consensus.”
There are 14 provincial assembly members belonging to several parties from Parsa. “As the name and headquarters are sensitive issues, we are for deciding them in consensus,” Sharada Devi Thapa, a UML member in the provincial Speaker-led committee, told the Post.