Kathmandu, Apr 27:
The main opposition Nepali Congress Friday presented a proposal for restructuring the country into seven provinces.
At a meeting of three major parties and United Democratic Madhesi Front Friday, NC leaders proposed the seven provinces as per the agreement the parties made at Hattiban earlier to settle for 6-7 states.
NC proposed Mechi, Koshi, Solukhumbu and Okhaldhunga in eastern part of Nepal as one province and Saptari, Parsa, Udayapur, Sindhuli and Makanwapur, with areas falling in inner Terai, as another.
Nawalparasi, Bardiya and all districts falling in the Terai belt except Chitwan, NC said, should be one province, while districts of Bagmati zone and hilly areas of Janakpur zone, Chitwan and Makawanpur as another.
NC has proposed to merge hilly regions of Rapti, Bheri and Karnali into one state, while putting all districts of Seti and Mahakali zones into another.
Proposing no change in 75 districts, NC said the respective states would have the right to name the provinces.
"We proposed seven provinces as per the earlier agreement of the parties to reflect a balanced population pressure, proximity, identity and capacity," said Arjun Narsingh KC.
Leader KC said that Maoists gave continuity to their war-era party agenda by advocating for 15 states, and added, officially though, the party presented a proposal for 10 provinces.
The government’s ally UDMF vehemently opposed the NC proposal regarding the number and structure of the states saying that the proposal was against Madhes sentiments, said Hridayesh Tripati, UDMF leader.
The UDMF stood for One Madhes-One Province, Minister for Physical Planning and Works Tripathi said that Maoist’s 10-state proposal was intended to seek consensus among the parties regarding the number of states.
As the Central Committee meeting of the CPN-UML was underway during NC presented proposal regarding the numbers and structure of states in new federal Nepal, UML leaders said that they would come up with their own proposal and give responses to the NC’s proposal at the next meeting.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar said that discussions on separate documents would be made by Saturday after UML’s proposal.
"We are ready to accept any proposal presented by any party which respects the sentiments of Madesi, indigenous and Muslim communities," he said.
NC leader Ram Chandra Paudel said that the NC proposal was not against the Madhesi sentiments as it had emphasised the welfare of the Madhesi people.
Meanwhile, leaders of NC Friday urged UCPN-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ to be flexible on his party’s proposal for 10 federal provinces.
NC leaders, in a meeting with Prachanda at his Lazimpat residence, also discussed the contentious issues of the constitution writing.
During the meeting, leaders of both parties agreed to move forward seriously on constitution writing process.
They also showed readiness to settle the disputed issues in the constitution writing process by forging consensus.
According to Prachanda’s aide Shiva Khakurel, NC vice-president Ram Chandra Paudel urged the Maoist chairman to adopt flexibility on the proposed 10 federal states.
Similarly, Prachanda said backtracking from the proposal was not easy as other parties would think and reminded the NC leaders of the steps taken by the Maoists to push forward the army integration process.
Former Prime Minister Prachanda sought flexibility from NC and CPN-UML leaders on the issue of state-restructuring.
Dahal said that his party had sacrificed in the army integration process and stressed that it was the turn of NC and UML to be flexible now.
NC general secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula said that Prachanda also underscored the need for federalizing the country based on identity and capability as far as it was possible.
He said that the NC leaders urged Prachanda for flexibility in the issues of state restructuring and number of provinces.