All's not well inside Janata Samajbadi PartyWhile Bhattarai and Yadav want to protest against the dissolution of the House, Thakur and Mahato have other plans.
The Janata Samajbadi Party held nationwide protests on Wednesday against Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s decision to dissolve the House of Representatives.
The party, which termed Oli’s move “unconstitutional and undemocratic”, has announced more protests. But the party formed after a merger between two different political forces last year has a problem of its own: Its leaders are at odds over Oli’s decision to dissolve the House and hold the snap elections on April 30 and May 10.
“We have already condemned Oli’s move by calling it ‘undemocratic and unconstitutional’,” said party leader Anil Jha. “But as we believe in democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism, we are ready to go for polls if the Supreme Court validates Oli’s decision to dissolve the House,” he added.
Party leaders admit that the difference of opinion between top leaders over Oli's decision to dissolve the House can be attributed to their different political ideologies and personal preferences.
The party was formed following a merger on April 22 between Samajbadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Party—largely prompted by an ordinance Oli had introduced to ease provisions related to the split and registration of parties.
Experts closely following the internal dynamics of the JSP for long said that it is beyond their comprehension that a united political party fails to take up a firm position on a sensitive political issue such as the dissolution of the House of Representatives.
“If you ask me, this JSP is yet to be unified as a political party,” said Chandra Kishore, a Madhes-based observer, and political analyst. “The merger happened as Upendra Yadav was running his old Samajbadi Party as his own ‘company’ while the Rashtriya Janata Party (formed after a merger between six Madhes-based parties), had their own political agendas,” Kishore told the Post.
The party was formed on April 22 as the then Samajbadi Party Nepal and the Rashtriya Janata Party announced their merger at midnight vowing to transform themselves into a strong alternative force to challenge traditional forces such as Nepal Communist Party and the Nepali Congress.
Some senior party leaders such as former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and former Deputy Prime Minister Yadav are opposing Oli’s move and have been calling for the restoration of the House. But other leaders such as Mahantha Thakur and Rajendra Mahato are of the view that there is no doubt Oli’s decision may be “ undemocratic and unconstitutional” but what happened was a result of flaws in the constitution.
Under the banner of various political outfits, six Madhes-based political parties had resorted to violent protests and imposed an economic blockade on the Nepal-India border after the promulgation of the new constitution in September 2015.
“It is well known that both Bhattarai and Yadav are left-leaning in terms of ideology. That’s why they are close to former Maoist leader, Pushpa Kamal Dahal,” another senior JSP leader told the Post. “Yadav has had a very bad experience with Oli, who ‘unceremoniously’ removed him from his ministerial stint.
“It is true that we have to complete the merger process. So there could be a difference of opinion between leaders, but it is also true that our political credentials are democratic,” said Jha. “But we have termed Oli’s move unconstitutional and undemocratic, and that’s why we are hitting the streets now,” he added. “Since we believe in democracy, rule of law, and constitutionalism, we have to accept the court’s verdict too.”
Former Nepali Ambassador to Denmark Vijay Kant Karna, who teaches political science at Tribhuvan University says that JSP is in trouble due to Oli’s move.
“Yadav wants to launch an aggressive campaign against Oli, but former RJPN leaders such as Mahantha Thakur, Rajendra Mahato want the party to wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict on the petitions filed against the dissolution of the House of Representatives.”
“But, Yadav as current party chair, should have consulted other party leaders before commenting on Oli’s move. So I see some difficulties inside our party,” said Karna.
Thakur and Mahato are of the view that as the constitution has several flaws, it needs to be amended.
“We all know the difference in schooling among leaders inside the JSP. A section of leaders thinks that if elections take place, they might get a good share in the distribution of the candidacies. Another section thinks that if the House is reinstated, they will get their fair share of the Cabinet pie,” said Kishore.