Personal tools
You are here: Home News Analysis and Views Sushil-led Government-14
Log in

Forgot your password?

Sushil-led Government-14

June 2014

Federalism, Number Of Provinces, And Identity

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


The so-called top leaders of the political parties have been advocating the limitations on the number of provinces to five, seven, eleven but not more. Clearly, they have been ignorance of the consequences of limiting a number of provinces. They said that the economy of the country could not sustain the provinces more than that. Again they have no clear mindset of the functioning of provinces. They also have been saying that the provinces should be multi-nationals. They have no idea of what does it mean. The future constitution should be as general as possible keeping open as many things as possible. The constitution should promote free market and small government.



Keep Open Number Of Provinces


The new constitution should not state how many provinces should be or how large or small they should be. The constitution simply needs to state, “Federal Democratic Republic Nepal” shall comprise provinces. This will give the future generations the flexibility of increasing or decreasing the number of provinces.


Each community or each ethnic group aspires to have a province. That is understandable. They had been repressed for 240 years. They had no opportunity of doing anything except for engaging in the land owned by the then rulers. They plowed the land for the landowners. Farmers remained almost hungry. Now, they want to work on their land for themselves. So, they want a province called by their ethnic or community name.


If we were to limit the number of provinces, then the first thing the people aspiring for having provinces would launch movements for provinces of their choice. How long the government could hold on without meeting the demands of the people for more provinces remains to be seen.


Is there anything wrong naming any province by the ethnic name? The answer is certainly not as long as each province functions as a state without the rights to splitting away from the federation. The names of provinces would not make any difference as long as each person residing in each province have the rights to be elected to the highest office of a province no matter to which ethnic or community s/he belongs.


None of provinces should discriminate its citizens based on religion, language, and ethnicity. For example, any Brahman province or Sherpa province would have Nepalis of different ethnic groups other than Brahmans and Sherpas. It does not mean that Brahmins only should have the rights to be elected to the highest office in the Brahmin province or Sherpas in the Sherpa province. Any Sherpa should have the rights to get elected to any office in the Brahmin province, and any Brahmin in the Sherpa province. In this case, the name of each province does not make any difference to the people residing in any province.


As such Nepalese federation could have as many provinces as they like. Names of provinces could be of anything or anybody. So, we could keep the number of provinces and the names of provinces open. We don’t need to have discussions on these matters at the constituent assembly or in public. If we were to have provinces to meet the aspirations of each ethnic group for having a province in its name then we will have a large number of provinces. In this case, the possibility is most of the provinces will merge in the future. If we were to limit the number of provinces then such provinces would split in a number of new provinces in the future.



Rights Of Provinces


Each province should have the rights to socio-economic development. None of the provinces should have even rights to talk about splitting away from the federation. These two rights are the most important ones each province should have.


The rights to development mean each province should have the rights to impose taxes. Then each province should use the revenue for the socio-economic development of the people residing in the province.


Each province should have the rights to use its natural resources for its development. While utilizing the natural resources, each province should not cause adverse effect on the development of the neighboring provinces. Each province should share the natural resources such as water, forest, minerals, and vegetation that cover more than one province. Provinces should jointly use the natural resources in the interest of all concerned provinces.


One of the most important rights would be the right to merge into a single large province or split a province in two or more provinces depending on the aspirations of the people in them. This right to split and merge provinces would resolve the conflict of the interest of the people residing in them.


None of the provinces should have the rights to have a direct contact with the foreign countries or foreign banks, or foreign international organizations. Each province should go through the federal agency for contacting with any foreign agency.


Each province should have the police force to maintain the rule of law. The police should be entirely for maintaining law and order and enforcing the rule of law not for repressing the residents of the province. If any province does it, then the federal government should interfere in the affairs of such a province government to stop it.


In case, if the locals rise up in a province demanding secession from the federation, the federal government should send a military force to put an end to such uprising. Any province should stay in the federation. None of them has any chance to break away from the federation.


None of the provinces should deny the development of religion, culture, language and the tradition of all the people residing in a province. Each community or ethnic group should have the rights to learn or teach in the language the community members speak.


The official language of each province should be as decided by the majority votes of the people residing there. However, the official service delivery should be in the official langue of the federation to any people residing in it if they so desire. So, each province would have at least two languages for the official business.


Any province should not have any rights to formulate and enforce any law going against the federal constitution and universal human rights. The federal government should ensure the fundamental rights of each person residing in any province of the federation.



Sustainability Of Provinces


Some political leaders including Prime Minister Sushil Koirala have been saying that the number of provinces would depend on the sustainability, and the ability. What does this statement means the political leaders have not made it clear.


These political leaders needed to understand that the provinces would not be of the same size and the administration. Each province would have the size of legislature depending on the population. The size of the administration would be just sufficient to deliver the services required by the population.


For example, the legislature of Mugu would not be of the same size as that of the Morang. The number of provincial lawmakers would depend on the population they need to represent. The legislature of the Mugu would have five lawmakers whereas the Morang would have 50. The size of the administration would be just to cater the needs of the people in them. In such case, the question of sustainability would not arise. The population of each province would be able to sustain the legislature and the administration.


Each province could sustain the administration it requires. Each province would design its legislature, and administration including the police forces as required by the people, as the people could support them. Thus, the question of the sustainability would not arise no matter how many provinces Nepal would have.


As the population grows, and the wealth increases, each province could enlarge its provincial legislature, and the administration to deal effectively with the needs of the growing population. Economic, financial, social and other activities would increase the creation of wealth in each province.


So, we should not be stingy with the number of provinces. We should create as many provinces as the people demand. Unwanted provinces would merge. So, the number of provinces should not be set at whims of the leaders of a few political parties. Provinces should be as demanded by the people.


The main valuable resources of each province are its population. Each province needs to turn the resources into wealth. The people would convert the natural resources into the consumable assets. For example, the people would covert the agricultural land into foods, forests into livestock, and materials for buildings and other purposes, and into even money selling timbers and wood products.


Artisans would convert the resources into the tradable goods. Traders would swap the goods, and create additional wealth. Bankers would lend the money to the people that need, and accept the deposits from the people that have surplus money. These are the few economic and financial activities just to mention in each province.



System Of Governance


We could simply copy the American system of governance. The system makes even the smallest province have equal representation at the center. For example, following the American system, we could have a senate (or any name the crafters of the constitution like to give it) with the equal representation of provinces. Then, we could have a house of representatives depending on the population. We could directly elect prime minister or president. Thus, we would have the senate, the House of Representatives, and president or prime minister. Three independent agencies would be working for the people. If one were to do some wrong then another two could stop it.


Some political leaders have been hyping that elected president or prime minister could be dictatorial. How an elected president or prime minister could be dictatorial when the two other agencies could impeach him/her if s/he were to do wrong.


We have seen the functioning of the parliamentary system in Britain and in India, too. The system has been for the majority rule. So, a political party or parties have majority in the legislature they would run the administration for the specific period. Nobody could challenge them. People or political parties need to wait for fresh general elections to make changes in the administration.


We need a system that would guarantee of proportional representation of minorities, and underprivileged people including women in the provincial and federal administration and legislatures. Our administration should be inclusive. Up until now, our administration, police, and the army have been bias in favor of certain classes of the people. Classes mean castes, ethnic group, and the community. The future constitution should do away with such things otherwise the constitution would not be able to stand the wrath of the people. People would burn it off on the streets as soon as it was promulgated.





Each province should have a provincial court nothing more. Most of the cases should be settled at the provincial court. Only the cases that could not be resolved at the provincial court should be taken to the appellate court. Only a few cases should reach the Supreme Court.


Even with the three stages of the judiciary, litigants would need to spend a number of years to get the justice. Even now, district courts take at least two years to deliver verdict. Then, the cases go to the appellate court that in turns takes another two or more years. Finally, the Supreme Court takes some years to give the final rulings on the disputed cases. Thus, litigants might need to spend whole lives on getting justice from the courts.



Acceptance Of Constitution


People would accept the constitution only when they feel that they could benefit from it. To be beneficial to all the people, the constitution should give an equal opportunity to every person without regard of gender, caste, economic and financial status, ethnicity and the community each person belongs to.


We have seen the constitutions of 1958, 1962, and 1990. All of them became useless papers. All those constitutions served only the ruling class. These constitutions did not serve the people in general. Consequently, common folks could not benefit from these documents.


Those documents did not protect the most underprivileged and weakest people in the society. Those documents had nothing to strengthen the weaker section of the society, and to empower them. Consequently, those documents continued to keep the majority of the people in dire need for social justice.


People lived in poverty. Rural people had been poor because they did not have the land to sustain their lives. They needed to plow the land of large landowners. They needed to accept whatever the landlords gave them. Some urban dwellers were poor when they did not have the full employment.


So, when the Maoists offered the possibility of having a piece of land to the rural people, they became ready to take up the arms and fight for it. They fought against the establishment. Some of them got it. Rural people would fight again if they were not to have a piece of land for sustaining their lives.


So, the future constitution should guarantee of equal rights to the access to any national resources including the land, equal opportunity of prosperity, and not limiting to do anything following the law of land. All these things would make the future constitution a strong document that everybody would protect even at the risk of her/his life.


June 1, 2014




Kathmandu, May 29, 2014: For the first time after the second constituent assembly was elected, top leaders of the major political parties aired their views on the state restructuring and distribution of state power on the seventh Republic Day: May 29, 2014.


Taking part in discussion held at the constituent assembly on these subjects, Chairman of CPN-UML Jhalanath Khanal opined that the country could not sustain more than seven federal units and ruled out restructuring the state on ethnic lines. He said Pradeshes (provinces) should be carved out on the bases of identity such as language, culture, religion, geographical proximity and historicity and economic capability means availability of resources and possibility of infrastructure development. He also said distribution of population and relations among the federal units should also be kept in mind while carving out Pradeshes (provinces).


Chairman of UCPN-Maoist Prachanda stressed the need for restructuring the state on the basis of identity. He said that it was the only way to end discrimination prevailing in the country based on class, gender, ethnicity and backwardness of regions; it also was the very basis of the twelve-point understanding the Maoists had reached with the then Seven-Party Alliance.


NC President also Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said, “We will try our best to reach a consensus on all contentious constitutional issues. However, if we fail to do so, we need to settle them through the voting process.”


However, Chairman Prachanda warned that the new constitution would not be adopted if the constitutional issues were to be settled through the partisan process as suggested by PM Koirala. “When we were the largest party in the first CA, NC and CPN-UML did not want to settle constitutional issues through the voting process. Now, they are advocating voting, as they are in a majority.” (Source:, May 30, 2014)


Document Actions