RJP-N scrambles to make sense of its own decision

  • Leaders from Provinces 5 and 7 question whether boycotting polls was a right move
  • Second phase of local elections cause skeletons to tumble out of the party’s closet
  • For Madhes-based forces, finding a way to keep agenda alive becoming an uphill task
- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Jul 6, 2017-

When the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal decided to boycott the second phase of local elections and forced the government to reschedule voting in Province 2, it was like a sort of victory at that time. But with the second phase polls over, the party seems to be scrambling to keep its agenda alive. And with  dissatisfaction brewing within the party, the immediate challenge is keeping the organisation intact. 

The RJP-N’s plan to register with the Election Commission on Wednesday could not materialise after internal feud reared its ugly head at the party meeting. 

The RJP-N came into being in the third week of April after six Madhes-based parties decided to form a unified force to mount pressure on the government to address their concerns, including an amendment to the constitution. Though the government decided to postpone polls in Province 2, it went ahead with elections in Provinces 1, 5 and 7, which were held on June 28. 

Despite the RJP-N’s official stance of boycotting the polls, some party members decided to contest as independent candidates, and this has brought to the fore the complex politics of Madhes to the fore. 

RJP-N leaders like Hridayesh Tripathi, Sarbendra Nath Shukla and Brijesh Gupta among others are questioning whether the decision to boycott polls was right, saying thousands of party leaders could not take part in the polls in Provinces 5 and 7. They have blamed the party leadership for focusing only on Province 2.

Party insiders told the Post that the RJP-N now is a divided house with leaders from west and east (Provinces 5, 7 and Province 2) squabbling, which has overshadowed party registration process, charter preparation and organisational structuring.

Most of the leaders who are unhappy now are those who were directly elected to the Constituent Assembly. 

Majority of leaders who are dissatisfied come from the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party whose chairman Mahantha Thakur is currently leading the RJP-N. “The difficulty now is how our leaders will field candidates in Province 2,” said an RJP-N leader, adding that political careers of thousands of party leaders and members are now at stake. 

RJP-N leaders said they had expected that elections would be postponed also in Province 5 and 7 and not only in Province 2. If that were the case, we would have had our saving grace in our constituencies, a leader told the Post, adding, “Now we are in a tight spot.” Some RJP-N leaders accused the Nepali Congress of betraying the party by delaying polls only in Province 2. With party members and cadres from constituencies throwing questions at the leadership, the party is now immersed in internal homework. 

Leaders said they would iron out differences and register the party with the EC. 

A meeting of the senior party leaders on Wednesday could not finalise the party statute and election manifesto as various disputes overshadowed the agenda. “We could not finalise the party charter and election manifesto due to some technical reasons,” said Rajendra Mahato, a senior RJP-N leader. “There are several issues on the table. So we have to sort them out before registering the party. It might take a week or so.”

Published: 06-07-2017 07:49

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