February Analysis: Federalism

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In the federal front, the provincial governments completed the 4th year of their establishment in February 2022. On the occasion of the anniversary, the provincial governments awarded some people and organized a long celebration as well. The formulation of provincial acts and the finalization of provinces’ names and their capitals are the main achievements of the provincial government. However, Province 1 is yet to finalize the name of its capital.

Timeline of major events 

Date Events 
On February 5Karnali Province has completed four years of its establishment.
On February 6Chief Minister (CM) of Province 1, Rajendra Rai, has increased ministers from seven to 13.
On February 8Bharat Shah, Minister for Internal Affairs and Communication of Madhes Province, filed a resolution proposal in the Provincial Assembly for the implementation of the Provincial Police Act.
On February 15Madhes Province completed four years of its establishment.
On February 15Lumbini Province completed four years of its establishment.
On February 15Bagmati Province completed four years of its establishment.
On February 16Province 1 completed four years of its establishment.
On February 16Gandaki Province completed four years of establishment.
On February 16Sudurpaschip Province completed four years of establishment.

Political context

Amid the political turmoil, all seven provincial governments have completed the 4th year of their establishment with only one year remaining until the end of its tenure. The provincial government spent most of the time in power-sharing, mainly during the 4th year. During this, 12 chief ministers have been appointed in seven provinces. In 2020 and 21, the provincial leaders had been busy with decision related to power-sharing. 

Except for Madhes and Sudurpaschim Province, chief ministers of two provinces—Province 1 and Bagmati have been changed three CMs each while Provinces Gandaki, Lumbini, and Karnali have changed two CMs each. For example, in Province 1, Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) leader Sher Dhan Rai became CM on February 14, 2018, and on August 16, 2021, Bhim Acharya replaced CM Rai. CPN-Unified Socialist (CPN-US) leader Rajendra Rai is now CM of Province 1. Similarly, in Bagmati, CPN-UML leader Dormani Poudel became CM on February 11, 2018, and Asta Laxmi Shakya replaced Poudel on August 18, 2021. CPN-US leader Rajendra Pandey is now CM of Bagmati.

Chief Minister of Province No. 1 Rajendra Kumar Rai . Photo: Chief Minister’s Office/ RSS

Similarly, Kul Prasad KC of Gandaki, Krishan Chandra Nepal of Lumbini, and Jeevan Bahadur Shahi of Karnali Province replaced Gandaki CM Prithvi Subba Gurung, Lumbini CM Shankar Pokharel, and Karnali CM Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, respectively. Two CMs—Lalbabu Raut and Trilochan Bhatt, who are continuing as CMs so far but had to take a vote of confidence after the ruling party split.

Similar to the politics at the federal level, all seven provincial governments experienced instability. In the first three years, they appeared stable and were able to formulate the acts. However, when KP Oli dissolved the federal parliament twice, the Maoist Center and Madhav Kumar Nepal withdrew from the UML. As a result, the CPN-UML-Oli-led government lost all provinces, including the center.

Formation of Acts

Almost seven provincial governments have succeeded in the forming of necessary acts. Out of seven, Lumbini Province has passed 67 acts, the highest compared to the other provinces, while Karnali and Sudurpaschim Province have passed 36 acts each. Similarly, Madhes Province has passed 43 acts so far. While Bagmati government has passed 62 acts. Similarly, the Gandaki Provincial Assembly has passed 50 acts and the Lumbini Province has passed a total of 67 acts out of a total of 74 registered.

Despite these acts, the provincial governments have been unable to implemented them due to a lack of coordination with the federal government. Recently, on February 8, Bharat Shah, Minister for Internal Affairs and Communication of Madhes Province, filed a resolution proposal in the Provincial Assembly for the implementation of the Provincial Police Act after the federal government showed carelessness in the implementation of the act. 

Different Presentation of Madhes 

Out of the seven provinces, Madhes Province has played an isolated role when compared to the other provinces. For instance, Madhes Province has filed six writs against the central government at the Supreme Court for interfering in the provincial government’s jurisdiction. While the remaining six provinces have not raised any questions with the federal government.

Similarly, the selection of a provincial name is also different from the other provinces. While other provinces have derived their provincial names from rivers such as Bagmati, Gandaki, and Karnali, the Madhes Province government has chosen an identity-based name for the province. 

Conclusion 

Political instability has become a major crisis in the functioning and performing of provincial government due to the centralized mindset of bureaucrats and politicians. The frequent changes in the provincial chief ministers are also because of instability at the federal level. The provincial government’s tenure is set to end in February 2023.

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