RJP-N’s tough stance stokes political crisisThe Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N) on Friday snubbed the government’s decision to postpone polls in Province 2 and called for general strikes on Sunday, the nomination date for second phase of elections in Provinces 1, 5 and 7, pitching the country into political crisis.
The Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N) on Friday snubbed the government’s decision to postpone polls in Province 2 and called for general strikes on Sunday, the nomination date for second phase of elections in Provinces 1, 5 and 7, pitching the country into political crisis.
A meeting of the RJP-N and Janajati forces, which have formed a broader alliance of Sanghiya Gathabandhan, on Friday categorically rejected Thursday’s government decision to postpone local polls in Province 2 until September 18, saying it was “a unilateral move” and that it hardly addressed their demands.
In a press statement, RJP-N leader Mahantha Thakur, also the coordinator of the Gathabandhan, said the agitating parties have not backtracked on their protests and that they will not participate in the elections.
RJP-N leader Keshav Jha said the agitating parties had demanded poll postponement in Province 5 as well.
“By deciding to hold polls in Province 5, the government is in a bid to quash our agenda of increasing number of local units in Tarai districts on the basis of population,” said Jha.
But leaders of the governing parties claimed that Gathabandhan leaders including Thakur, Sharat Singh Bhandari, Mahendra Raya Yadav and Kumar Lingden had expressed commitment to join the polls if the government postponed the polls in Province 2.
Home Minister Janardan Sharma also said that the decision was taken after the RJP-N leaders gave their word that they would participate in the polls. “If they have taken some other decision, it’s up to them. The government will stick to its June 28 poll plan,” he said.
The Election Commission which had urged the government not to postpone polls on Thursday had later in the day decided to extend nomination filing date for Provinces 1, 5 and 7, where elections will take place on June 28, to Sunday to allow the agitating parties time to pick candidates.
But the Gathabandhan instead has announced lathi rallies in all district headquarters of the Tarai region on Saturday and general strikes on Sunday, aiming to disrupt the process. The agitating parties have said they rescheduled the protests in line with their earlier announcement that they will foil the June 28 elections.
The CPN-UML, which has vehemently objected to the government decision of postponing the polls in Province 2, has questioned the motive behind the move, saying it suspects foul play.
UML General Secretary Ishwor Pokhrel said his party “will expose the governing parties’ intention”, which the party suspects “is a bid to extend the term of Parliament”.
As per the constitution deadline, the current Parliament’s term will expire in January next year and the country must hold provincial and federal elections—after from local polls—before that.
“The Nepali Congress has not only cheated the RJP-N; it has also misled its coalition partner CPN (Maoist Centre) by delaying polls in Province 2, for fear of a drubbing,” said Pokhrel on Friday while addressing a party meeting in Dhumbarahi.
But if what some Maoist Centre leaders say is anything to go by, there is more to this crisis than meets the eye.
A senior Maoist Centre leader, who did not want to be named, said the decision to postpone polls in Province 2 was orchestrated by Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal—Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s ally.
Asked how that would benefit the Maoists, the leader claimed that Nepali leaders “are sinking in the quicksand of a design of international players”.