Samajbadi Party and Rastriya Janata Party sign midnight deal to merge partiesThe merger follows an attempt by some Samajbadi Party lawmakers to split the party using the amendment instituted by a recent ordinance.
Tika R Pradhan
Two days after the KP Sharma Oli government issued an ordinance amending the Political Party Act, the Samajbadi Party and Rastriya Janata Party reached a merger deal at midnight on Wednesday. The merger was prompted by Samajbadi party vice-chair Renu Yadav’s attempt to use the new amendment, which allows 40 percent of either the party’s central committee or its parliamentarians, to split the party.
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Yadav had long been unhappy with party chair Upendra Yadav.
After sensing that Renu Yadav could take away seven of the party’s 17 federal lawmakers and split the party, both Madhes-based parties, whose several unification attempts had failed in the past, hurriedly announced a merger late Wednesday night.
“Yes, we decided to go for a merger to deal a blow to Oli’s schemes,” said Rajendra Mahato, one of the leaders in the six-member presidium of the Janata Party. “We had long been preparing for a merger to build a strong democratic alternative force, but Oli’s move expedited the process.”
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According to Samajbadi Party leaders, the ordinance introduced on Monday by Oli was aimed at splitting the Samajbadi Party by offering Yadav the post of deputy speaker and ministerial berths for at least two other lawmakers.
The two parties’ merger means they now have a total of 33 members in Parliament—17 from Samajbadi and 16 from the Janata Party. Renu Yadav’s seven lawmakers now fall short of the 40 percent threshold to split the party.
The two parties have decided to register their new unified party as the Janata Samajbadi Party, which will retain the Samajbadi Party’s flag and the Janata Party’s umbrella election symbol.
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Baburam Bhattarai, Upendra Yadav, Rajendra Shrestha and Ashok Rai from the Samajbadi Party and Mahantha Thakur, Rajendra Mahato, Mahendra Raya Yadav and Sharat Singh Bhandari from the Janata Party have signed the four-point unity agreement.
As Anil Jha and Rajkishor Yadav of the Janata Party were not present during Wednesday night’s unity agreement, the document does not have their signatures.
The Janata Party has 17 seats in the federal Parliament, but one of its lawmakers, Resham Chaudhary, is currently in jail. According to the new amendment, the support of seven of its 17 lawmakers would’ve sufficed to split the party.
Mahato said the unified party will inform the Election Commission about the unified party and all other processes related to unification will be started after the lockdown.