Janata Samajbadi Party gets registered with poll body but issue of hierarchy remainsMahantha Thakur and Upendra Yadav will have executive powers in the party while Baburam Bhattarai will lead the federal council.
After marathon meetings for the last four days, leaders of the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal and Samajbadi Party Nepal agreed to have three chairpersons to lead the unified Janata Samajbadi Party, and the new party was registered with the Election Commission on Sunday.
“We have registered the new unified party at the Election Commission,” said Rajendra Mahato, a Janata Party leader. “Now the formation of a strong alternative force has begun.”
Leaders say upcoming meetings of the unified party will decide all the remaining tasks of the unification process including the hierarchy of the party leaders.
As per an agreement among the leaders, Mahantha Thakur, Upendra Yadav and Baburam Bhattarai will be the chairs of the party, with Thakur and Yadav sharing equal executive powers. “We have an understanding that Bhattarai will lead the federal council as the party chair and the party will later elevate him to the first rank,” Mahato told the Post.
The two parties, with 17 seats each in the House of Representatives, had announced their merger on April 22.
However, leadership management had emerged as a major issue, resulting in the delay in registering the new unified party.
Though the leaders of the two parties had finalised the hierarchy of the top three leaders— Thakur, Bhattarai and Yadav, there was conflict over the executive roles between Thakur and Yadav.
But with Thakur getting the executive role lately, the Samajbadi Party had demanded that Bhattarai must have the first position in the party hierarchy. However, the party has applied for the registration with Bhattarai as the fourth ranking leader after Thakur, Yadav and Ashok Rai. The decision was made after Bhattarai told the leaders that he was ready to sacrifice his rank in the party for the sake of party unity and formation of a strong alternative force in the country.
Initially, the Samajbadi Party was considering offering Thakur a ceremonial role of the top ranking leader in the party hierarchy and entrusting the executive role to Yadav.
But after Thakur refused to assume ceremonial role, the Janata Party had proposed that the new party be registered with the Election Commission with him and Bhattarai as the leaders of the new party for the registration purpose.
But Yadav was adamant on the executive role for him, according to leaders.
The days-long negotiations then resulted in the agreement that Bhattarai will chair the federal council of the new party while Thakur and Yadav will lead the executive committee.
However, the issue of power sharing in the new party has not been resolved yet.
The hierarchy of party leaders could emerge as an issue of conflict with Thakur getting the first position in the party with executive role and Bhattarai, the second in hierarchy, getting none.
Already, leaders have started questioning how the first and the third ranking leaders were going to share the executive role.
“The leaders agreed to register the party with Thakur as the top leader due to the deadline pressure. The first meeting of the unified party is expected to settle the hierarchy of the top leaders,” Ganga Shrestha, general secretary of the Samajbadi Party, told the Post.“We will come up with the regulations to define the roles of the party chairpersons later.”
The leaders have also decided to have Ashok Rai and Rajendra Mahato as the senior leaders. Mahato will also lead the parliamentary party of the unified party.
The Janata Samajbadi Party will have a 53-member executive committee for now and two members will be nominated later. Currently it has 26 members from the Rastriya Janata Party and 25 members from the Samajbadi Party.
The new unified party was announced on the midnight of April 22, as some Samajbadi Party lawmakers were planning to register a new party after the KP Oli government introduced an ordinance easing the provision for party split.
The Samajbadi Party split, however, did not happen. Since then the ordinance too has already been revoked.
The leaders of the two parties had reached the Election Commission on April 23 to formally notify the electoral body about the party merger. They had 45 days to officially register the party.
Shrestha, the general secretary of Samajbadi Party, said the commission could take some weeks to process and verify the documents before officially recognising the new party.