Leadership issue dogging unity talks of Samajbadi Party and Rastriya Janata PartyLeaders say they have been working to settle the issue through dialogue, and talks will intensify once leaders return from flood-affected districts.
Leaders of the recently unified Samajbadi Party Nepal, who are in informal talks with the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal for unification, have said the negotiation was delayed due to the leadership issues.
With two major parties of the country—CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre)—unified after the major elections last year, smaller parties are under pressure to merge to gain strength and show their presence in national politics as a strong alternative force.
When Naya Shakti Party Nepal and Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal were about to sign the agreement for merger after finalising all their issues, Rajendra Mahato of the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal and MS Thapa of Janamukti Party had reached the Babarmahal-based office of Naya Shakti Party Nepal to urge Bhattarai and Yadav to wait for some time so that they could also join the unification process.
However, claiming that the wait could further delay their already settled issues, the two parties had decided to move ahead leaving behind Rastriya Janata Party Nepal.
“If it was so easy, Rastriya Janata Party would have also been merged together when Naya Shakti and Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum united,” said Rajendra Shrestha. “There are several issues to be sorted including that of leadership.”
However, leaders say they have been working to settle the issue of leadership through dialogue. Since most of the leaders of both the parties were engaged in the rescue and relief works in the flood- and landslide-affected districts, leaders believe that the dialogues—though informal—could intensify soon. “I think the dialogue will intensify soon,” said Keshav Jha, general secretary of the Rastriya Janata Party and a member of the party’s talks team.
On April 20, 2017, the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal was formed with the merger of six fringe Madhes-based parties—the Mahantha Thakur-led Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party, the Rajendra Mahato-led Sadbhawana Party, the Sharat Singh Bhandari-led Rastriya Madhes Samajbadi Party, the Mahendra Yadav-led Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party and the Rajkishor Yadav-led Madhesi Janadhikar Forum- Ganatantrik and the Anil Jha-led Nepal Sadbhawana Party.
After failing to finalise the leadership of the new party, they had decided to form a presidium of the six leaders to chair the party on a rotational basis every three months.
The issue of leadership has become crucial when it comes to conflict within the party. The same issue has come to the forefront when the party is holding chit-chat with the recently formed Samajbadi Party Nepal.
“They have demanded number one position in the party which is impossible,” said Rajendra Shrestha, co-chair of the Samajbadi Party Nepal, who also leads the party’s talks panel.
With the six-member presidium, the leaders are having a tough time managing the top leadership in the unified party. They are brainstorming to find an appropriate way to manage them all but they have not got any innovative idea that could appease all the leaders of both parties.
“Managing the leaders of the Rastriya Janata Party is the major issue affecting the unification process as other issues could be sorted easily,” said Prashant Singh, secretary of the Samajbadi Party. “Both the chairpersons—Upendra Yadav and Baburam Bhattarai—are engaged in informal dialogues with the Rastriya Janata Party leaders.” They are seeking each other’s proposals and options to manage the leaders.
Leaders say discussions are ongoing on the option of Mahantha Thakur and Baburam Bhattarai being the senior-most leaders, Upendra Yadav and Rajendra Mahato co-chairs with executive authority and other leaders including Ashok Rai, Rajendra Shrestha and four leaders of the Rastriya Janata Party’s presidium—Anil Jha, Mahendra Yadav, Rajkishor Yadav and Sharat Singh Bhandari—as senior leaders of the party.
Even the six leaders are not on the same page on various issues and that has further complicated the ongoing unification dialogue.
In Rastriya Janata Party, current coordinator of the presidium, Anil Jha has refused to own up the ongoing informal dialogues with Samajbadi Party claiming that it was not formally discussed in party meetings.
Rastriya Janata Party had started dialogues for unification exchanging formal letters with the Upendra Yadav-led Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal on January 3 before the party merged with Bhattarai’s Naya Shakti Party.
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