Sajha and Bibeksheel to unite, announcment todayIt was not that people did not speculate this; many actually had even suggested that the Sajha Party and Bibeksheel Nepali Party, the two young forces in the country’s political spectrum, should unite.
It was not that people did not speculate this; many actually had even suggested that the Sajha Party and Bibeksheel Nepali Party, the two young forces in the country’s political spectrum, should unite.
The two parties had hogged quite a good amount of media limelight during the first phase of local elections held on May 14 after they fielded their candidates for the mayoral post in Kathmandu Metropolitan City.
Sajha Party’s Kishore Thapa and Bibeksheel’s Ranju Darshana were fresh faces in Kathmandu’s mayoral race, with the former securing 18,492 votes and the latter garnering 23,439 votes. Though UML won the mayoral race leaving NC’s candidate behind, Thapa and Darshana remained to be the talk of the town for quite some time.
Since then there was pressure from well-wishers that they become one to establish the party as an alternative force.
On Tuesday, the two parties said that they would announce their merger on Wednesday.
“It’s a culmination of our two- to two-and-a-half-month-long negotiations,” said a leader involved in talks to bring the two forces together.
The two parties then fielded their candidates in the second phase of elections, which were held in Provinces 1, 5 and 7 held on June 28—a real test for them. But their electoral ambitions turned out to be a damp squib. Both failed miserably.
Did that prompt the two parties to seriously consider a merger?
“That aside, similar principles and visions shared by both the parties and an impressive run in the first phase of local elections played a crucial role in bringing the parties closer,” said Surya Raj Acharya, spokesperson for the Sajha Party. “Wherever we went after the first phase of local elections, people and civil society members from different called for unification of the two forces.”
Bibeksheel, led by Ujwal Thapa, was founded around five years ago with an aim to “change the country’s politics” which it says has failed to give a way out to the country’s pressing problems. It officially made its foray into politics in 2014 with “pragmatism, reformism and progressivism” as its ideology. In the last few years, the party’s presence in social movements has been significant.
Sajha Party, on the other hand, was formed months before the local elections. BBC journalist Rabindra Mishra’s decision to quit his lucrative job to take a plunge into politics also had become media headlines. Sajha aims “to clean up the dirt in Nepali politics” and strives for a welfare state on the back of what it calls STEM—system, transparency, integrity and meritocracy.
“What we concluded after our moths-long discussions is our electable chances would have been high had we fought the elections, especially in Kathmandu, jointly,” said a senior leader engaged in merger negotiations.
Leaders from both sides have agreed to pursue inclusive democracy, welfare state and economy as the new party’s socio-political agendas.
Bibeksheel Nepali Party spokesperson Ramesh Paudyal said the unification of the two parties will fill the void of an alternative political force in the country. “Common people who are tired of traditional political parties wanted to see us together,” said Paudyal. “This unification is the result of people’s desire of seeing two alternative forces as one.”
The name of the unified party will be announced on Wednesday, according to leaders of both the parties.
“The decision on its name, symbol and mechanism of central committee is still under discussion and will be made public tomorrow,” said Acharya.
According to Acharya, the new party will follow the “collective leadership” formula.
The unified party, according to a senior leader, will have a 34-member central committee—17 from Sajha and as many from Bibeksheel, and Mishra will preside over party meetings.
As far as the party symbol is concerned, the unified party is planning to take one of the symbols they have now. If Sajha comes first in the party name-for example Sajha Bibeksheel Party—then Bibeksheel’s party symbol-a smile-will be the party’s symbol. If Bibeksheel comes first-for example Bibeksheel Sajha Party-then Sajha’s symbol-a balance-will be used as the party symbol.
The unified party plans to contest the thirds phase of local elections in Province 2 on September 18.
While Bibeksheel was registered with the Election Commission before the first phase of elections, Sajha Party was registered 10 day ago.