A homecoming for Gachhadar

  • NLF, NC merge to ‘stop rise of authoritarianism, save democracy and ensure broader acceptance of statute’
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 17, 2017-Twenty six years ago, when the country held its first elections in 1991 after the restoration of democracy, Bijay Kumar Gachhadar made it to Parliament on the Nepali Congress (NC) ticket. In the elections thereafter in 1994 and 1999, he again won from the NC with which he had made his foray into politics. He remained an influential leader in the party, enjoying an extraordinary clout.

The successful second people’s movement in 2006 was followed by then Maoist rebels’ decision to lay down the arms and join the mainstream politics. And a year later, the Madhes movement in 2007, spearheaded by Upendra Yadav, put the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum in spotlight.

The first Constituent Assembly elections were due next year and Gachhadar severed his decades-old ties with the NC and joined the MJF to fight “for the greater Madhesi cause”. But a decade later, Gachhadar’s Nepal Loktantrik Forum on Monday merged with the NC in a homecoming for one of the most influential leaders from the Madhes region, who is often branded a clever politician and even an opportunist, for his ability to find ways to stay in power.

As he signed the unification document along with NC President Sher Bahadur on Monday at Baluwatar, a tearful Gachhadar recalled the day when he had submitted his differences to then NC President Girija Prasad Koirala and defected the party 10 year ago. 

“I was stopped by Koirala at this same venue,” said Gachhadar at the unification signing programme which was attended by top leaders of both the parties. “Today I am returning home.”

The unification between the NC and Gachhadar’s party was largely spurred by a left electoral alliance formed by the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) earlier this month. Gachhadar has said his party’s decision to unite with the NC is for the greater cause of democracy and aimed against any kind of totalitarianism in the country.

“I have joined the NC to save democracy and foil unnecessary polarisation. With my re-entry, the NC now will become a stronger force and will win majority seats in the upcoming polls,” said Gachhadar.   

Gachhadar is one of the few leaders who have won all five elections—three parliamentary and two CA—since 1991.

He became a minister after winning the CA elections in 2008. In 2009, he broke his ties with Yadav’s MJF, formed his own MJF-N and joined then government led by Madhav Kumar Nepal. 

In April, his MJF-N, Shiva Lal Thapa’s Rastriya Janamukti Party-Democratic and Yashoda Kumari Lama’s Dalit Janajati Party united to form the Nepal Loktantrik Forum (NLF).

Monday’s unification between the NC and NLF comes on the eve of federal and parliamentary polls and this move of Gachhadar is viewed by some as one of Gachhadar’s ploys to save his politics and stay in power. 

A tweet by Tula Narayan Shah, who writes on Madhes politics, saying “there was an attraction in Madhesi politics when it was a profitable enterprise; now Madhesi politics entails risk, and it’s but obvious for some to run away,” came on Monday just as Gachhadar was set to sing the unification document with the NC.

It is not clear how the NLF’s merger with the NC will help the ruling party in the upcoming elections. This, however, is likely to help Gachhadar. His NLF won just three seats in Province 2 where Yadav’s SSF-N and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal fared well, winning 51 seats together, more than the NC’s 40. After the two Madhes-based parties’ decision to join hands for the upcoming elections, Gachhadar was left with no option than to join the NC, said a leader of the Congress party, which is in a bid to form what it calls “a broader democratic alliance” to counter the left alliance. 

“The fundamentals of the unity between the two parties are stopping the country from falling into totalitarianism and ensuring broader acceptance of the constitution,” reads the joint unification paper signed by Deuba and Gachhadar. 

The two sides have agreed to take forward the past agreements and understandings reached at different times and pledged to work for the wellbeing of marginalised communities like Tharu, Madhesi, Janajati, Adibasi, Dalit, Muslim and women. 

On organisational front, both sides have agreed to merge the respective sister organisations in the centre as well as provincial, district and local levels in an appropriate way. 

According to informed sources, Gachhadar is set to get the post of vice president or general secretary in the NC under nominated quota. Twenty top NLF leaders will be adjusted in the NC Central Working Committee, while others have been assured of positions in various NC departments.

Published: 17-10-2017 07:09

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