Janata Samajbadi wants ordinance to split party before joining governmentThakur-Mahato faction wants a split fearing expulsion by a powerful Yadav-Bhattarai camp if Parliament is revived.
A faction of the Janata Samajbadi Party led by Chairman Mahantha Thakur and senior leader Rajendra Mahato, which is in talks with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to join the government, is now seeking Oli’s support to split the party before joining the government.
Oli wants to transform his government into a “national government” in order to hold mid-term elections in November and has been trying to induct a faction of the Janata Samajbadi Party into his Cabinet. But due to a deepening crisis in the party, where the rival faction led by Upendra Yadav and Baburam Bhattarai is strongly opposed to joining the government, the Thakur-Mahato faction is now seeking Oli’s support to split the party, two senior leaders of the party told the Post.
During their meeting Monday with Prime Minister Oli and CPN-UML leaders, Thakur and Mahato urged the prime minister to bring an ordinance to pave the way for splitting the Janata Samajbadi Party.
But Oli rejected the idea of ordinance, a senior Janata Samajbadi leader told the Post.
“Oli himself is grappling with a similar crisis in the CPN-UML, so how could he agree to such a proposal?” the leader said.
Oli told the Janata Sambadi leaders that there is no need for an ordinance and that they should not fear removal as lawmakers as there is no parliament, according to the leader.
During Monday’s meeting with Oli, Janata Samajbadi leaders including Thakur, Mahato and a few others also discussed the division of ministerial portfolios and the party’s demands including release of their jailed leaders and cadres.
After Oli refused to bring an ordinance, the leaders told him that they could join the government only after resolving the dispute in the party and that it could take some time, the leader said.
Another senior Janata Samajbadi Party leader Laxmanlal Karna said they will definitely join the government but they will first try to resolve the dispute in the party.
“Chairman Thakur has already said that we are joining the government with eight cabinet ministers and two ministers of state. But we need to settle the dispute in the party first and also we are waiting for the government to withdraw the cases against our leaders and cadres,” said Karna.
The Thakur-Mahato faction has been saying that Oli has fulfilled some of its key demands including the one related to citizenship and it wants to see some of its jailed comrades released before joining the government. The party has long been demanding amendments to the constitution and Oli in May third week responded by announcing a five-member task force to study constitution amendment.
Factional dispute in the Janata Samajbadi Party reached a climax after the Thakur-Mahato faction decided to support Oli’s bid to form a new government on May 21.
After the Thakur-Mahato faction without consulting the party’s rival faction, supported Oli in his bid to get re-elected as prime minister under Article 76 (5) and submitted a letter promising united support of the party’s all 32 lawmakers to the President’s Office on May 21, an infuriated rival faction led by another chairman Upendra Yadav supported the prime ministerial bid of Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba by presenting the signatures of 12 lawmakers.
But the President’s Office rejected the bids by both Oli and Deuba hinting at the factional disputes in the CPN-UML and the Janata Samajbadi Party.
After this Oli and the Thakur-Mahato faction expedited talks and have reached a tentative power-sharing deal.
But now the rival factions in the Janata Samajbadi Party have been seeking clarifications from one another for violation of party rules.
The Yadav faction on Saturday again sought clarifications from Thakur, Mahato and two other leaders, Laxman Lal Karna and Sarvendra Nath Shukla, for supporting Oli and threatened to remove them from the party.
On the same day, the Thakur-Mahato faction also wrote to Yadav seeking clarification from him for unilaterally supporting Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba’s bid for prime minister.
Although the Thakur-Mahato faction has a majority in the Parliamentary Party, over 60 percent of the party’s Central Committee supports Yadav. This is the reason why the Thakur-Mahato faction has not been able to secure an official decision from the party to join the government, a Janata Samajbadi leader close to Thakur told the post. “This is why we urged Oli to prepare a legal ground through an ordinance for splitting the party.”
But Arjun Thapa, the party’s Central Committee member who is close to Yadav, said the Yadav faction has a majority in the Central Committee so they would swiftly expel the Thakur-Mahato faction leaders from the party if they joined the government.
As per the Political Parties Act, one needs over 40 percent support in both the Parliamentary Party and the Central Committee to split a party.
Though the Thakur faction has over 40 percent support in the Parliamentary Party, it is in a minority in the Central Committee.
In April last year, Oli had issued an Ordinance to allow a faction with 40 percent support of the Central Committee to split a party, but the ordinance was withdrawn after widespread condemnation.
“If Oli brings an ordinance to facilitate a split in the Janata Samajbadi Party then the law will backfire on Oli himself as the Madhav Nepal faction of the CPN-UML wants to split the party. So Oli would never favour such an ordinance,” said Thapa.
But those close to Oli say such an ordinance is not needed for splitting the Janata Samajbadi Party. “There is no need for a change in the law because the parliament is not in existence,” said Surya Thapa, press advisor to the Prime Minister, adding, “Also the decision to join the government hasn’t been finalized yet.”
The Thakur-Mahato faction fears that in the event of restoration of the dissolved parliament, the Yadav faction would emerge powerful and expel the rival faction from the party rendering the Thakur-Mahato faction partyless, according to a leader close to Thakur.
During Monday’s meeting, the Janata Samajbadi leaders sought some more time to settle the dispute in the party before joining the government, according to Karna.
“We want to join the government as a party, not as a faction, so we need to resolve the differences in the party,'' said another leader Surendra Jha.