Rastriya Janata Party postpones its national convention for third timeSamajbadi Party’s indecision on quitting the government has affected unification talks, leaders say.
The Rastriya Janata Party Nepal has decided to postpone its first national convention amid uncertainty over its plan to start merger talks with the Samajbadi Party Nepal.
The Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, which was formed on April 20, 2017 after the unification of six Madhes-based parties, was planning to hold its national convention on November 14-16. The party’s merger plan with the Samajbadi Party has hit a snag after the latter has not come up with any decision quitting the Oli government.
According to leaders, the party has decided to hold conferences of lower committees and form ad-hoc committees. This is the third time the party has postponed its convention.
“I think unification could happen before the party holds its convention if things move forward in a positive direction,” said Keshav Jha, general secretary of the Rastriya Janata Party.
There are, however, differences among party’s six leaders, who have been leading the praesidium in turns, over whether to go for unification before or after the convention.
Two leaders—Anil Jha and Rajkishor Yadav—are for unification only after the convention, while others are making a push for merger with Samajbadi Party at the earliest date possible.
The Rastriya Janata Party, which was also part of the Oli government until March this year, has been asking the Samajbadi Party to quit the government so that they can jointly launch protests to build pressure for constitution amendments. The two parties also aim to create a strong alternative force together to counter the Nepal Communist Party and Nepali Congress.
However, the Samajbadi Party, which was formed in May this year after the merger between Upendra Yadav’s Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal and Baburam Bhattarai’s Naya Shakti Party Nepal, has been vacillating on quitting the government.
According to Samajbadi Party leaders, a meeting of the party’s central council could take a decision after the Chhath festival.
“Samajbadi Party leaders have told us that they will take a concrete decision on quitting the government through a meeting on November 30,” said Rajendra Mahato, a leader of the Rastriya Janata Party. “If they decide otherwise, party unity plan will not move forward.”
The two Madhes-based parties had joined the Oli government last year after a deal on an amendment to the constitution, which they have been demanding since its promulgation. But the Oli government has not taken any step towards that end. The Rastriya Janata Party quit the government in March after its lawmaker from Kailali was convicted of masterminding Tikapur violence and sent to jail.
Though the Samajbadi Party too wants amendments, its presence in government has kept it in a bind.
Leaders of both the parties agree that only by joining hands can they make a stronger push for amendments, but things have not worked between them yet.
Both the parties have formed talks teams, but they have not held any formal meeting so far.
“We are trying hard for an early decision on the unification with the Rastriya Janata Party,” said Baburam Bhattarai, chairperson of the Samajbadi Party Nepal. He, however, stopped short of saying how far his party has taken the process forward.