Federalism: NC eyes clear-cut agenda; doesn’t know what that is


The closed session of the Nepali Congress (NC) Mahasamiti, slated to begin on Tuesday, will deliberate on the party’s stance on federalism, forms of governance, its Madhes policy and internal disputes.

The party’s top agenda is to draft a clear-cut policy on federalism. Though the party has rejected the idea of ethnic federalism as floated by the UCPN (Maoist), the NC is still not clear about the basis for names, demarcation and number of federal provinces. There are also Janajati and Madhesi voices inside the party that are demanding that it come up with a clear policy on identity-based federalism, though its leaders seemed keen to reach out to newly delineated constituencies.

“The NC is firmly committed to federalism. We want to win the hearts and minds of Madhesis and other people,” said senior NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba.

In a document to be presented at the Mahasamiti, Vice-chairman Ram Chandra Poudel has proposed two models on the number of federal provinces—13 and seven. However, he has not named the provinces, which has been a contentious issue among the parties. He has proposed five provinces in the Madhes, which is unlikely to impress the Madhes-based parties.

On forms of governance, the NC is likely to reiterate its support for a parliamentary system.

Congress leaders said that the party had previously agreed to ‘a mixed model’—separation of powers between the President and the Prime Minister—during the constitution writing process.

“We adopted a flexible stance on forms of governance during the constitution-drafting process so that there would be a give-and-take to ensure a constitution. Now we are firm on a parliamentary system,” said NC General Secretary Prakash Man Singh.

Party leaders said that the parliamentary system is “the NC’s very identity and it is the best model in the world.”  

The party’s Madhes policy will be a dominant issue at the NC’s Mahasamiti meet. Leaders said that holding the Mahasamiti in the Madhes itself had sent out the message that the party is ready to address the aspirations of the Madhesi people.

In the 2008 elections, the NC lost heavily in the Madhes. The party plans to launch a “special campaign” focusing on the Madhes after the Mahasamiti meet.

Posted on: 2013-04-09 07:58