Nepal has adopted a cooperative federalism that focuses on the internal unity and equal development of all provinces through a judicious allocation of national wealth. The primary aim is to empower the grassroots democracy and enhance the people’s active participation in the key policy formulation and development endeavours. Federalism allows regional self-rule and brings the rulers and the ruled closer. In a diverse society, it seeks to minimise the inter-community conflicts as provincial governments are expected to be flexible to sort out the emerging socio-economic challenges at hand.
Proper allocation of power and resource remains a critical task under a functional federal setup. Mutual collaboration, cooperation and high understanding will be necessary to effectively oil the federal wheel in the country that has witnessed political stability following lingering transition. National unity, not conflict, helps usher in a new era of prosperity. If the country under the republican setup gets embroiled in another round of political bickering, federalism may simply falter and fail. To avert this risk, the centre and the provinces need to work in tandem to realise their common goals.
The other day, chairman of Communist Party of Nepal Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda rightly observed that national unity holds the key to the all-round development of Terai/Madhes in the southern part of country. Addressing a function organised to mark Dashain, Tihar and Chhath in Janakpur, he laid emphasis on broader national unity and ethnic harmony to ensure the dignity of Madhesi people and prosperity of Province 2 comprising eight core Madhes districts bordering India. Prachanda pulled no punches when he said that the federal government would not tolerate any activities that scuttle the national unity and territorial integrity. In an apparent reference to some disruptive forces, he noted that those conspiring to break the Terai from the country were only doing disservice to the Madhesi people.
Some diabolic elements have been hell-bent on spreading the heresies of separate Madhes at the behest of foreign forces. Such an act openly challenges the national security and geographical unity. This is indeed another ploy to push the Terai flatland into an endless sequence of conflict and its people into entrenched penury. Terai’s major problems are poverty, unemployment, ignorance, backwardness, superstition, exploitation and lack of basic infrastructure. Despite being known as the nation’s basket of grain, it lacks timely irrigation, fertilizer, equipment and other necessary agro technologies. If the irrigation service is provided to farmers in time, Terai will see a green revolution and make the country self-reliant in foods and vegetables.
Against this backdrop, the Oli government has accorded topmost priority to the development of the Terai region. During his first premiership, his government allocated the biggest amount of budget for the Terai region for its overall economic development. This debunks the myth that Terai has been undermined by the centre. According to Prachanda, the government is to start building a Sunkoshi-Kamala diversion so as to irrigate the vast swath of fertile land across the Terai. Likewise, it is set to supply drinking water from Triyuga River of Udayapur to the residents of Province 2.
These development initiatives come to fruition if both federal and provincial governments work hand in hand. Both are expected to get engaged in constructive collaboration so that national unity is buttressed and overarching goal of inclusive prosperity is achieved.