Naya Shakti, SSFN join forces against scheduled local polls

  • 9 NSN leaders oppose Bhattarai’s move
- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu
The two leaders have also pledged support to the anti-government demonstrations being carried out by the Madhesi Morcha and the Sanghiya Gathabandhan

Feb 24, 2017-The Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal and the Naya Shakti Nepal (NSN) on Thursday asked the government to roll back its decision to hold the scheduled local level elections but said they were ready to take part in provincial and federal polls if their concerns over constitution amendment were addressed.

In a joint statement issued on Thursday morning, three days after the government announced to hold the local elections in May, Naya Shakti coordinator Baburam Bhattarai and SSFN Chairman Upendra Yadav said holding the provincial and federal elections should be the immediate priority of the government for “implementing federalism and institutionalising the historical achievements”.

“The government announced to hold the local polls on May 14, going against its own commitment to passing the constitution amendment bill with necessary revision first. This has led the nation toward conflict and uncertainty,” reads the statement. It also pledged the two forces’ support to the anti-government protests being led by the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha and the Sanghiya Gathabandhan.

The two parties, which have been campaigning jointly for constitution amendment since last year, have alleged Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s government of hastily announcing the local polls without laying the minimum groundwork.

Describing the report prepared by the Local Level Restructuring Commission as “incomplete, unscientific and biased”, Bhattarai and Yadav demanded complete change in the report on the delineation of local units. “The LLRC was also supposed to fix the numbers and boundaries of autonomous provinces, protected areas and special areas as stipulated by the constitution,” reads the statement.

The joint statement, however, landed into a controversy after several leaders of the Naya Shakti Nepal alleged Bhattarai of joining hands with Yadav without holding discussions in the party. In a statement released shortly after the two parties’ note, at least nine leaders of Naya Shakti criticised Bhattarai for supporting the protest of the Madhes-based parties. 

“Our party, formed for economic prosperity of the country, stands for an equitable progress of the entire nation irrespective of class, region and community. This is not a party that carries the agenda of a specific community or region,” reads the statement, countering Bhattarai’s move.

The Madhes-based parties prefer federal and provincial polls to the local polls. In a meeting with the CPN (Maoist Centre) and the Nepali Congress before the Cabinet announced the local polls, Morcha leaders had urged PM Dahal to conduct the polls for the federal and provincial assemblies instead.

Morcha leaders have given three reasons for holding federal and provincial polls before the local polls. One, they argue that only the federal or provincial polls can help implement federalism. Two, they say there are the least number of disputes in federal or provincial boundaries while the row over the local boundaries is too deep to be resolved immediately. Three, it would be unconstitutional for the central government to hold the local elections as it “falls under jurisdiction of the provincial government”.

“If the government endorses the constitution amendment bill before the polls as pledged, there won’t be many disputes left over the federal and provincial boundaries. We can already see serious disputes over the local boundaries not just in the Madhes but elsewhere too. This will intensify as the full report of the LLRC comes out,” SSFN Co-chair Rajendra Shrestha told the Post.

Later on Thursday, Naya Shakti Coordinator Bhattarai also proposed forming a working alliance with the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha to launch a unified protest against the local polls. Morcha leaders, however, have not responded clearly to Bhattarai’s proposal floated during a meeting with the Morcha leaders.

While Yadav and a few other leaders appear keen to join forces with Bhattarai, most of the constituents of the Morcha are in no mood to forge alliance with other groups, according to three Morcha leaders. The Morcha on Monday unveiled a 17-day protest programme against the upcoming polls.

Published: 24-02-2017 08:11

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