Gathabandhan ups the ante

  • Announces protests aimed at foiling June 14 elections
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu
The RJP-N says it will not participate in polls as the government has failed to address its demands and implement past deals

May 27, 2017-The Sanghiya Gathabandhan led by the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N), a unified force of six Madhes-based parties, on Friday announced fresh protests, saying it will not participate in the second phase of polls. 

RJP-N leaders earlier had called for postponing the elections, but the government on Monday decided to increase the number of local units in 12 Tarai districts in a bid to bring the agitating parties on board the poll process. The RJP-N, which has been demanding local units in the districts along the plains on the basis of population, has said adding 22 units in 12 districts is not enough. The agitating parties’ have also been saying that the government is yet to address their demand of constitution amendment.

The RJP-N decision to take to the streets aiming at foiling the polls and a Supreme Court ruling later on Friday against the government decision to increase the number of local units have further compounded the confusion. In addition, the Election Commission (EC) had also made it clear that holding polls in the added local units on the announced date of June 14 is “technically not possible”.

With the first round of local elections successfully held on May 14, clouds of uncertainty are now hanging over the second phase of elections to be held in 41 districts of Provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7.

“The government is yet to address the 11-point demand the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha had submitted,” said Mahantha Thakur, coordinator of the Gathabandhan, at a press conference organised on Friday to announce the agitating forces’ protests. “The Maoist Centre-Nepali Congress has also failed to implement the three-point deal that the Morcha had reached before Dahal’s election to the post of prime minister.”

Six of the seven parties of the Morcha now are under one umbrella of the RJP-N, while the Gathabandhan comprises the RJP-N and Janajati forces. The Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal is not associated with the Gathabandhan now. 

“The government has also failed to withdraw the cases that were filed against our leaders and cadres in relation to the Madhes and Tharuhat movements,” said Thakur. 

The Gathabandhan has announced general strikes along the plains and some hill districts of the eastern region on June 1-2. 

As per the election schedule made public by the EC, candidates for June 14 polls must file nominations on June 2. 

The Gathabandhan has also planned torch rallies on Saturday and lathi rallies on Sunday in the headquarters of the municipalities. The Gathabandhan said it would also picket and padlock election offices set up at local units. 

“Further protest plans will be announced on June 3 if our demands remain unaddressed,” said Thakur. 

Some second-rung leaders of the RJP-N, however, have objected to Friday’s decision of launching protests. They are of the view that the party should rather try to find a middle path and participate in the elections. 

When asked about the apex court ruling that came hours after the RJP-N’s protest announcement, Rajendra Mahato, a senior leader of the party, said the RJP-N “does not know about the ruling.” 

“Nor do we want to know about the ruling. The onus lies on the government. Our participation in polls depends on how the government treats our demands,” he said, adding that any action that deprives the Madhes of its rights will not be acceptable to the RJP-N. 

Published: 27-05-2017 06:27

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