Janata Samajbadi hints at leaving five-party electoral allianceLeaders from Unified Socialist and Janata Samajbadi are irked as Nepali Congress and Maoist Centre want more seats while diminishing their prospects.
While three parties in the five-party alliance have been expressing dissatisfaction at the latest proposal floated by Krishna Prasad Sitaula of the Nepali Congress to increase electoral seats for his party, Janata Samajbadi Party, an ally, has decided to explore the option of reaching out to other parties outside the coalition for possible collaboration.
With this decision, according to party insiders, the Janata Samajbadi may walk out of the alliance and join hands with the CPN-UML for the November 20 elections.
Following an hours-long meeting of its central executive committee on Saturday, the Janata Samajbadi Party said it may choose to have a healthy competition with the parties in the coalition.
The five-party alliance comprises the Congress, the CPN (Maoist Centre), the CPN (Unified Socialist), the Janata Samajbadi and Rastriya Janamorcha.
The tentative agreement reached among the taskforce members on the sharing of seats among the five parties fell through after Sitaula came up with a new proposal. Sitaula floated a new proposal in which he set aside more seats for the Congress and the Maoists while slashing the shares of Janata Samajbadi and Unified Socialist parties. He was for limiting the candidates to be fielded from the Unified Socialist to around 17 and for leaving Janata Samajbadi with only 14–15 candidates. It was mainly after this proposal that the leaders of the two parties were irked and started to threaten to tie up with other parties including the UML.
Sitaula had proposed 34–35 provincial assembly seats for the Janata Samajbadi, which is far below their expectations. Janata Samajbadi leaders insisted that their party must get at least one House of Representatives seat in each of the seven provinces but that was not possible as per the new idea brought up by Sitaula. Leaders of Maoist Centre however are encouraged by the new proposal.
“The seat-sharing discussions among the five-party coalition were not satisfactory for our party,” said Janata Samajbadi spokesperson Manish Suman. “We have decided to start talks with other parties as well. But if that doesn’t yield any result, we will contest the polls alone.”
As leaders of Loktantrik Samajbadi, another Madhesh-based party, are negotiating with UML leaders for an electoral alliance, it’s difficult for the Janata Samajbadi to ally with the UML.
“Our first priority will definitely be to remain within the five-party alliance but we will also discuss with the UML and other parties for cooperation if the coalition continues to ignore our demands,” Suman told the Post. “We have warned the coalition leaders not to force us out of the alliance.”
Janata Samajbadi Party insiders have said they could also have friendly competition among the ruling alliance like they did during the local polls.
They started looking beyond the existing coalition after they sensed that their chances of getting seats as per their claim were slim, Suman said.
“Three parties of the coalition—the Unified Socialist, Janata Samajbadi Party and Rastriya Janamorcha—are unhappy with the Congress proposal to limit their seats,” said Himalal Puri, a member of the taskforce representing the Janamorcha. “Parties will discuss the issue during the coalition’s upcoming meetings.”
Other members of the 11-member task force said there could be a tacit understanding between Congress and Maoist leaders to increase their seats at the cost of the other three parties.
Some Congress and Maoist leaders have said this decision of the Janata Samajbadi could be a pressure tactic while others don’t rule out the possibility of the Upendra Yadav-led force joining hands with the UML. They said the Janata Samajbadi chair may reach an agreement with UML chief KP Sharma Oli if the latter offers him a better deal despite their differences.
Janata Samajbadi leaders often said that they cannot ally with the Congress because they are competitors in Madhesh, said Dev Prasad Gurung, general secretary of the Maoist Centre who is also a member of the taskforce formed to work out seat-sharing among the five parties.
Despite their differences with the UML, Janata Samajbadi could get a better deal from Oli because they aren’t major rivals in Madhesh Province, Gurung said.