Ashok Dhakal, The Republica Daily, 18 Jan 2018
After its efforts to decide the temporary provincial capitals and recommend the governors in consultation with the left alliance failed, the government on Wednesday went ahead with the decisions on its own.
A cabinet meeting held at Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's official residence at Baluwatar decided to recommend the provincial governors to pave the way for the National Assembly elections. The left alliance, which swept the recent parliamentary and provincial assembly polls, has indicated that once it forms the new government it may revoke the decisions of the present government.
According to Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Yagya Bahadur Thapa, the government has fixed the temporary capitals and recommended the names of the governors as per its constitutional duty.
“The cabinet meeting has fixed the temporary workstations for the operations of the provincial governments in line with Article 288 (3) of the constitution,” Thapa said.
The constitution has given the government the powers to fix the temporary capitals of the provinces. These can be changed by a two-thirds majority of the respective provincial assemblies.
The government has located the capitals of all the provinces in the southern part of the country, except for the capital of Province -4. While Biratnagar has been chosen as the temporary capital for Province-1 and Janakpur for Province-2. Similarly, Hetauda, Pokhara, Rupandehi, Surket and Dhangadhi have been named as temporary capitals of Provinces 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 respectively.
The government's decision comes against the backdrop of protests launched by locals in various cities including Dipayal, Dang, Dhankuta and Birgunj, demanding that their cities be declared the provincial capitals.
The cabinet meeting on Wednesday also appointed provincial governors on the basis of a power-sharing deal among the ruling parties. The meeting recommended Prof Govinda Subba as governor of Province-1, Ratneshwar Lal Kayastha as governor of Province-2, Anuradha Koirala of 3, Baburam Kunwar of 4, Umakanta Jha of 5, Durga Khanal of 6 and Mohan Raj Malla of Province-7.
The president appoints the governors upon the recommendation of the government, as per Article 163 (2) of the constitution.
Of those recommended as governors, Subba, a professor of English at Tribhuvan University, had joined the Nepali Congress some decades ago although he had started in politics from the leftist parties. Similarly, Kayastha is a former secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and former member of the National Planning Commission, while Koirala is a former assistant minister and the founder of Maiti Nepal.
Kunwar served as attorney general during the Sushil Koirala government and Jha was a minister during the Khil Raj Regmi government. Khanal was a member of the National Assembly from the Nepali Congress.
Malla, who has been recommended as governor of Province 7, was a member of the then National Panchayat. He started his political career from the Rastriya Prajatantra Party and later joined the Nepali Congress.
Term and qualifications of governor
According to the constitution, the term of office of a provincial governor shall be five years, but the president can remove him or her from office at any time. The constitution has barred the same person from becoming governor of the same province more than once. Article 164 of the constitution has mentioned the qualifications for governors as being the same as for becoming a member of the federal parliament. A governor should also be above the age of 35 and not be disqualified under any law for holding public office.
Likewise, a post of governor will become vacant when the term expires, if the incumbent tenders resignation in writing to the president, is removed by the president, or if the incumbent dies. The president can designate the governor of another province to act as governor in the province where the vacancy has arisen until such time as the appointment of the next governor.
The law has given the governor special privileges just like with the president. According to the Remunerations and Facilities for Governors Act, no one can file a case in any court of law against a governor during or after his/her tenure, for any decision or action taken in the capacity of governor.
The governor's key responsibilities include summoning and proroguing sessions of the provincial assembly, issuing ordinances, certifying bills, administering oaths of office and secrecy to the chief minister and ministers of the respective province and acting as a representative of the Federal Government of Nepal in the province.
Perks and facilities
A governor will receive Rs 104, 000 a month as salary and hospitality allowance. The Remunerations and Facilities for Governors Act has fixed Rs 64,000 as monthly salary and Rs 40,000 a month as hospitality allowance for the provincial governor. Likewise, a governor will receive Rs 18,000 a year as dress allowance.
UML indicates it may change province guvs
CPN-UML, which has emerged as the largest political party from the recent elections, has indicated that it can overturn the decisions of the government about governors after forming its own government.
UML General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel said that the next government will not be forced to give continuity to the governors appointed by the present government. “The government had a constitutional duty to appoint the governors and it accomplished that. The next government also has the same power and will not be forced to retain them,” Pokharel told Republica.
UML Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai has tweeted that the next government may use its constitutional power as the present government didn’t have any moral right to appoint the governors.
Pokharel said that their party doesn’t comment on the decision of the government to choose provincial capitals and governors as that was its constitutional duty. UML leader Shankar Pokharel has, however, expressed discontent on Twitter stating that the provincial assemblies may correct the wrong decisions of the government about provincial capitals. Pokharel had been lobbying for Dang as capital of Province-5.