The government will announce temporary capitals of seven provinces and governors immediately after the federal and provincial elections, fearing strong protests from the ground if any dispute arises ahead of the scheduled polls, according to officials.
“If we take such a decision [now], it will hamper the polls,” said Minister for Commerce Min Bishwokarma. The government is also undecided about candidates to be appointed governors of the seven provinces. A senior official said it could court a huge controversy if the government announced temporary capitals of the provinces ahead of the elections. The Nepali Congress-led administration also fears a backlash as a result of disputes arising from immediate appointment of the governors.
The governor calls the first sitting of the provincial parliament and invites the political parties to form the provincial cabinet. Immediately after both rounds of polls are held within a month, arrangements for buildings to house provincial governments and parliaments and offices have to be made. For this, the provincial headquarters have to be designated first.
According to an official at the Prime Minister’s Office, there are lobbies for a secretary to lead the administrative wing at the governor’s office while others want a joint-secretary in the position. No decision has been taken yet but it will be decided soon, said an official. The delay in announcing the provincial capitals has affected logistical preparations to host the provincial assemblies and administrative offices. The Constitution of Nepal authorises the government to announce the temporary headquarters while a simple majority of the respective provincial assembly will fix the permanent capital.
The committee led by then minister for general administration Tek Bahadur Basnet in the last week of September recommended provincial headquarters to the Cabinet with options for endorsement. After discussion, the report was sent to the financial and infrastructure committee of the Cabinet to study the options. Out of the seven provinces, the committee has recommended single capitals for three, two names each for two, and three and four names for one province each.
However, in the changed political scenario after the formation of the left alliance, the government fears that announcing the capitals could invite public resentment against the ruling coalition, a source at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development said. There is dispute whether Kavre, Kathmandu or Hetauda should be designated the capital of Province 3 while public opinion is divided over Dang or Butwal as the capital of Province 5.
“For instance, if Dang is chosen, public sentiment in Butwal might go against the government or vice-versa. This could be one of the reasons behind the delay,” said an officer at the ministry seeking anonymity. The committee has recommend Biratnagar, Itahari or Dhankuta as the probable capital of Province 1, Janakpur for Province 2; Pokhara for Province 4; Surkhet for Province 6 and Dipayal or Dhangadi of Province 7.