Understanding Federalism P3: Different views
Posted by n3wday on August 2, 2008
The following are a series of statements stating the different parties views on federalism in Nepal. They were excerpted from the ‘Facets of Federalism’ series on Nepal News. I would encourage our readers to explore this series in it’s entirety, many of the articles provide rich discussion of the issue.
Ethnicity-based federalism is a must: Dev Gurung
Maoist leader and local development minister Dev Gurung has said that ethnicity-based federalism is the appropriate way to solve the problems facing the country.
Stating that the zonal administrative structure introduced by late King Mahindra was against the aspirations of different communities, Gurung said federal structure based on geography will simply not work.
Talking to Nepalnews on Sunday, the Maoist leader also claimed that ethnicity-based federalism is necessary for harmony and unity among different communities.
He said, “The demand for single Madhes province is irrelevant in the present context because it infringes upon the rights of indigenous groups in Terai, and will give rise to monopoly of some groups there.”
Mentioning that his party has proposed 13 states and different sub-states, Gurung said the states should be given autonomy while certain rights related to defence, foreign policy and monitory policy should be with the central government.
According to him, big power projects and highways should be controlled by the central government while the states can devise their development plans on their own.
The Swiss model of federal system is more applicable in our country than any other model, he added.
Stating that national integrity is facing threat, Gurung stressed on the unity among all the nationalist forces to save the sovereignty of the nation.
Geography should be the first basis for federal division of the country: Tripathi
Hridayesh TripathiSenior leader of Terai Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP) Hridayesh Tripathi has said that the first basis to be considered while determining the federal structure of the country should be the geography.
In an interview with Nepalnews on ‘federalism,’ he said cultural and ethnic factors should also be considered after geographical area is fixed for a federal unit.
He said that there should be a consensus on geographical division of single Madhes province first after which political division of different provinces can be considered.
However, he reiterated his party’s intention that they wanted a single Madhes both geographically and politically.
Tripathi said that there could be many sub-provinces under single Madhes or Terai province.
“Dividing a Madhes into different provinces will ultimately contribute to establish a reign of people of hilly region again,” he argued.
Talking about sharing of rights between the center and the provinces, he said the center should have very limited role especially related to national security, foreign policy and monetary policy.
‘Ethnicity-based federalism will lead to civil war’
CPN (UML) leader Pradeep Nepal has said that ethnicity-based federal structure will ultimately invite civil war in the country.
Talking to Nepalnews Saturday, Nepal said the nation will have to be divided into more than a hundred provinces if ethnicity is be to be the basis of federalism.
According to him, there will be 10 to 15 provinces, but the exact number should be decided through political consensus.
Stating that single Madhes province as demanded by the Terai-based parties is simply impossible, the UML leader maintained that geographical positioning, natural resources, language and culture should also be considered while delineating the federal units.
Opposing the Indian model of provincialism, Nepal said European model, especially that of Switzerland, is best for Nepal.
He further said that success of the federal structure depends on how power is allocated to the provinces while matters related to national security, foreign policy, national highways, railways and big hydropower plants should be decided by the central government.
Federalism should not jeopardise national unity: Dr. Mahat
Leader of Nepali Congress (NC) Dr. Prakash Saran Mahat has said that would-be federal structure should be determined by different aspects such as geography, economy, culture, ethnicity and historical background.
Talking to Nepalnews on Friday, leader Mahat also retreated that geographical and ethnicity-based federalism is not possible, adding that such federal structure could even prove detrimental to peace and national unity.
However, he did not mention about the exact numbers of the states the NC would go for, but added that they will be determined by political consensus.
Mahat further said that defence and foreign policy should be controlled by the central government while said other rights should give the states.
He also emphasised that the big parties to bring smaller parties into confidence while drafting the new constitution.