Snubbed by ruling alliance, Loktantrik Samajbadi set to start poll partnership talks with UMLLoktantrik Samajbadi Party leaders say they have also approached fringe outfits, including those led by Hridayesh Tripathi, CK Raut and Resham Chaudhari, among others.
With the five-party ruling coalition struggling to forge a seat-sharing deal among its constituents, the Madhesh-based Loktantrik Samajbadi Party is preparing to start formal negotiations with the main opposition party CPN-UML for an electoral alliance for the November 20 polls. The party, meanwhile, has not completely given up its hope of joining the ruling alliance.
Party insiders say they have been waiting for the amendment to the Citizenship Act to become law before taking official decision to start negotiations with the CPN-UML.
“We will wait for a few days until the citizenship amendment gets through and then take an official decision on electoral alliance, most probably with UML, if the ruling coalition doesn’t change its position [about us],” said Sarbendra Nath Shukla, a member of the party’s executive committee. “Anything can happen; the five-party ruling coalition could crumble.”
On August 18, the House of Representatives endorsed the amendment bill on Citizenship Act which was returned by the President for a review on August 14 without any changes. Later on August 28, the bill was sent to the Legislative Management Committee once it was tabled at the National Assembly and the bill was endorsed without change on Friday.
Now, the bill will be certified by the Speaker and sent to the President within a day or two for authentication.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari has no option but to authenticate it. Amendment to the Citizenship Act is a longstanding demand of the Loktantrik Samajbadi. The party will most likely claim credit for the amendment in the November 20 polls.
According to Shukla, Janata Samajbadi Party Chairman Upendra Yadav has been publicly saying that his party may pull out of the existing coalition if his party does not get enough seats in the elections.
“Unlike Mahantha Thakur, Upendra Yadav can conduct negotiations with multiple parties simultaneously, so anything can happen,” Shukla told the Post. “There is also pressure from the Madheshi electorate for our two Madhes-based parties to join hands for the upcoming polls.”
However, before the two Madhes-based parties could forge any partnership, Yadav wants a public apology from the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party for its joining the past government of KP Oli.
With the ruling coalition dragging its feet on inducting the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party into the coalition, the party has started poll-partnership talks with fringe parties including those led by Hridayesh Tripathi, CK Raut and Resham Chaudhari among others.
Tripathi, who had won the 2017 federal polls on UML’s election symbol, has already registered his own party–the Janata Pragatisheel Party. Raut’s Janamat Party and Chaudhari’s Nagarik Unmukti Party already took part in the May 13 local polls.
“We have forged an agreement with Hridayesh Tripathi to support him for direct election and his party will support us in all other constituencies and also in the proportional representation votes,” Shukla said. “Besides that, we are also in talks with Resham Chaudhari and CK Raut’s party.”
Shukla said his party will first forge a ‘firm’ alliance with fringe Madhes-based parties and then jointly negotiate with bigger parties—most probably the UML.
Loktantrik Samajbadi Party was formed in August last year after splitting from the Janata Samajbadi Party, which is currently led by Upendra Yadav.
During the latest meeting of the ruling coalition Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had proposed that a few seats should be set aside for top leaders of the Loktantrik Samajbadi also.
The Congress President Deuba has a soft corner for the Loktantrik Samajbadi as most of its leaders are from Congress background and Congress had supported Mahantha Thakur during the 2017 polls.
However, chances are slim for the five-party alliance to accommodate LSP because they are fighting for the 165 seats among themselves.
“The situation of the five-party alliance is pathetic as they have not been able to share the seats,” said Rajendra Mahato, LSP senior leader. “We will start formal discussions with the UML once the President authenticates the Citizenship bill.”
Since the party had supported the Deuba-led coalition government and its demand for the Act amendment is set to be fulfilled, LSP leaders say they will consult Congress president Deuba one last time for poll partnership before starting formal negotiations with the main opposition.
“We have been in touch with UML leaders for a long time informally,” Mahato told the Post.
CPN-UML leaders, who earlier tried hard to break the five-party ruling coalition, have through their recently concluded Central Committee meeting, have decided to forge alliance with like-minded parties in the November 20 federal and provincial polls.
The Loktantrik Samajbadi Party’s core voter base is spread across nine districts in central Tarai.