Six Madhes-based parties under one umbrella
- Rastriya Janata Party ‘to step up protest’ to press for statute revision
- Leaders rule out possibility of participating in polls slated for May 14
Apr 21, 2017-
Six of the seven Madhes-based parties under the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) on Thursday announced their merger to form a new party—Rastriya Janata Party (RJP—in a bid to what they said consolidate their strength for protest to push for constitution amendment and emerge as a new force at the national level.
With 25 seats in total, the RJP has become the fifth largest force in Parliament now.
The Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party (11 seats), Sadbhawana Party (6 seats), Tarai Madesh Sadbhawana Party (3seats), Rastriya Madesh Samajbadi Party (3 seats), Nepal Sadbhawana Party (1 seat) and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Ganatantrik (1 seat) are the parties that now will be recognised as the RJP, which has taken an umbrella as its electoral symbol and chosen a horizontal tricolour of white, green and red flag.
All the six parties which have their bases in the Madhes region, however, have decided to drop “Madhes” from the party name, in an indication, some say, to send the message across that it does not want to be known as a regional party.
The announcement of the RJP, its electoral symbol and party flag on Thursday comes amid a series of mergers of fringe forces in recent days, largely triggered by a new law related to political parties, which has set three percent threshold and one directly elected seat for a party to get the status of national party in Parliament.
The Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal, the seventh and key constituent of the SLMM, however, has not joined the RJP, as it is working to unite with Baburam Bhattarai’s Naya Shakti Nepal.
The SLMM alliance, however, continues to exist.
The RJP has said it will be led by chairpersons of the six parties on a rotational basis according to their order on the Election Commission list of party registration. So, Mahantha Thakur will be the first chairman of the party.
While announcing the merger of six parties, the groundwork for which was laid at a meeting on Wednesday night that ran through the wee hours on Thursday, the RJP leaders said that they would now continue their protests with a new vigour.
However, speculations are rife that the six parties have come under one umbrella with an aim to participate in the local level elections scheduled for May 14.
But during the unification programme, RJP Chairman Thakur ruled out the possibility of participating in polls.
RJP leader Rajendra Mahato even went on to challenge the government to hold local polls on May 14.
“The RJP is a democratic party. It has full faith in democratic system and elections, but the government must create environment conducive for [us] to participate in the announced elections,” said Mahato.
Asked about the merger of the six parties of the SLMM, Tula Narayan Shah, a political analyst, said formation of the RJP would certainly create some pressure on the major parties which signed a 16-point deal ignoring Madhes and promulgated the new constitution without addressing the Madhes-based parties’ concerns. “But I don’t think the RJP and Upendra Yadav-led party will join the elections until the constitution is amended,” said Shah.
Meanwhile, the Bijay Kumar Gachhadar-led Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and the Bhanuram Chaudhary-led Tharuhat Tarai Party (TTP) said on Thursday evening that they had united to form Nepal Loktantrik Party. This new party has also dropped “Madhes” or “Tharuhat” from the party’s name. Lawmaker Gopal Dahit said the electoral symbol of the new party would be two joined palms in the form of “Namaste”. The party now has 18 lawmakers in Parliament.
Name already registered?
After the six Madhes-based parties announced their merger to form Rastriya Janata Party, it has come to light that Netra Bahadur Limbu had registered a party with the same name with the Election Commission on March 15. An EC letter accepting Limbu’s application to register Rastriya Janata Party with the poll body has been signed by EC Secretary Gopinath Mainali. When asked, Mainali said he was not sure about Rasrtriya Janata Party being registered with the EC. RJP leader Rajendra Mahato, however, said the name was picked after consulting EC officials. “Even if a party with the same name has been registered, there won’t be any problem, as we may add ‘Nepal’ to make it Rastriya Janata Party Nepal,” said Mahato. (PR)
Published: 21-04-2017 08:11