RJP-Nepal views NC as its main competitor

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Sep 10, 2017-The Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal views the Nepali Congress as its “main competitor” for the upcoming local level elections in Province 2. With the newly united party considering the eight districts of Province 2 as its base, the RJP-N is expected to pose tough challenge to three major parties Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre).

Formed after the merger of six Madhes-based parties in April, the RJP-N is seen as the largest regional party in the plains whose actual strength will be tested in the September 18 vote. RJP-N leaders identify NC as their main competitor in most of local units in the province. The UML’s “anti-Madhes” stance had made the second largest party in Parliament weaker in the Madhes while RJP-N leaders consider the organisational structure of the Maoist Centre as “poor”.

“In this context, we see the NC as our main competitor. We are preparing our strategy accordingly,” said Keshav Jha, general secretary of the RJP-N. “After unveiling the election manifesto on Thursday, we have expedited the campaign in all the eight districts.”

Since Madhes is the NC’s traditional stronghold, Congress leaders and analysts who follow Madhes politics closely say the claim is partially true. NC leader Bimalendra Nidhi cited his party’s preliminary study to say that the RJP-N is his party’s main competitor while in some places the UML was the major rival. Congress leaders said the NC and the UML will compete mainly in the highway areas while it is RJP-N vs NC in the “core Madhes”.

Madhes observers divide Tarai voters into two categories—democrats and leftists. Political analyst Tula Narayan Sah said the RJP-N’s claim is natural and valid. “The NC and the RJP-N share the same vote bank [democratic] and constituency. There was and is competition between the CPN-UML and the Maoists to secure leftist vote while there is competition between the NC and the Madhes-based parties for democratic vote.”

“My observation is that there will be competition between the NC and the UML for the first and second places in the Madhes,” Shah added.

Interestingly, the RJP-N in its election manifesto has taken a soft stance towards the NC in comparison to the UML and the Maoist Centre. Along with other issues of social and economic transformation, RJP-N leaders say constitution amendment is their main agenda for all the three elections—local, federal and provincial.

“It is necessary to amend the constitution so we will ask the people to vote for us for the same purpose,” said RJP-N leader Jha. The constitution amendment bill was rejected on August 21 after it failed to secure the required two-thirds majority in Parliament.

After strong results in the first CA elections in 2008, Madhes-based parties had fared poorly in the 2013 assembly polls in the plains where the NC and the UML made significant gains to emerge as the two biggest parties.

Published: 10-09-2017 07:52

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