Naming new provinces
Naya Patrika, 10 July
Only two provinces have shed their numbers and got names, and also decided on their capitals. At a time when other provinces had not even started a debate over possible names and capital cities, Province 6 forged a consensus to name itself ‘Karnali’ after the river. It also chose Birendranagar as its permanent capital.
Province 4 followed suit last week, but not as easily as Karnali Province. After an intense debate, Province 4 settled on Gandaki with Pokhara as its permanent capital city. But this was greeted with street protests from those who wanted it named Tamuwan.
What is the status of the naming of the other six provinces?
Five months have passed after the first meeting of the Province 1 assembly, but the House hasn’t even debated its possible names. Members of the assembly are divided over whether to retain Biratnagar as the capital, or move it somewhere else. Pratap Prakash Hangnam of the NC says: “A baby is baptised on the ninth day, but our province has not got a name even in five months.”
Chief Minister Sher Dhan Rai assured that Province 1’s name and capital will be finalised before the ongoing monsoon session ends.
Province 2 MPs are divided over the name and capital. The ruling Federal Socialist Forum Nepal and the Rashtriya Janata Party want to call it Madhes Province. But the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the NC are against this, preferring Mithila Province. The NCP is ready to name it either Mithila or even Janaki. Janakpur is Province 2’s temporary capital, but there is an intense lobbying to move it to Birganj.
Naming Province 3 has not been a divisive issue, but its capital is. Province 3 MPs from Nuwakot, Kavre, Bhaktapur and Chitwan are against retaining Hetauda as the capital. The federal government has formed a 13-member committee led by MP Bishal Khadka to recommend the most suitable place, and it is unlikely to be Hetauda.
Naming Province 5 is not as tricky as zeroing in on a capital. Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel favours his home district of Dang, but the NCP General Secretary Bishnu Poudel and the NC leader Balkrishna Khad want to retain Butwal as the provincial capital. Other MPs are lobbying for Banke, Bardiya, Rolpa and East Rukum as well.
The main opposition NC has tabled a proposal in the provincial assembly demanding Province 7’s name and capital be finalised soon, but there has been no debate yet. MPs from each political party want to move the Province 7 capital to their districts like Doti and Dadeldhura. But others want to retain the headquarters in Dhangadi itself.