MAHENDRA SUBEDI, KATHMANDU, June 22: After the successful completion of the first phase of the local level polls with a huge turnout, the second phase of the polls scheduled for June 28 is just a week away. The triumph of the first phase of the local level polls has instilled confidence among the common folks, government and political parties.
The days leading up to the second phase of the local level elections are also expected to come and pass peacefully though sporadic incidents have been recorded in Banganga of Kapilbastu, Bajura, Sankhuwasabha and Banke district on the day of filing of the nominations.
Meanwhile, the participation of erstwhile agitating party led by Upendra Yadav and some others has added colour and further validation to the second phase of the polls, as it would help ensure broader acceptability of the new constitution.
Unfortunately, the decision of the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) to boycott the polls is not only creating further rifts among the political actors but also seriously jeopardizing the ongoing democratization process of our new republic setup. The RJPN however has no other option left that to shun its uncompromising stand. Otherwise, it would backfire to the recently-formed party itself as more leaders are likely to abandon the party to join other mainstream political parties. This has already been exhibited in the recent days as many senior leaders have quit the RJPN to join the CPN (UML), CPN (Maoist Centre) and Federal Socialist Forum, Nepal. Many leaders of the party have also filed nominations for the June 28 election as independent candidates, which they said, was to meet the aspiration of the voters.
The RJPN party’s decision is nothing more than its leaders’ inaction, poor negotiating capacity, intra-fighting, failure to rightly gauge the public pulse and respect the democratic exercise through the use of sovereign franchise.
The major demand of the RJPN, the constitution’s amendment, is not only a difficult job but almost impossible one, given the mathematics of the parliament. The main opposition CPN (UML) and the RJPN are at two banks of a river thus making it almost impossible for them to come together for the constitution amendment. The CPN (Maoist Centre), Nepali Congress have openly advocated for the amendment to fairly accommodate the genuine demands of the agitating Tarai-based parties while the voice of Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal too is not critical but their support is not sufficient to garner the required two-thirds majority until the UML throws is weight behind it. Besides, UML’s support is equally important for political legitimacy and to enforce the amendment in future as well.
It is evident that the agitating RJPN and its rabble-rouser leaders are presently in a catch-22 situation. Friend-turned-foe Upendra Yadav’s election campaign and harsh criticisms along with some revelations have thrown the RJP Nepal leaders into deep trouble. Now the agitating RJP-Nepal neither can go for polls nor does it have any stable ground for agitation. So, the party is lost in the name agitations and is thus rudderless. Currently, the RJP, Nepal and its leaders are just trying to preserve the sentiments of Madhesi intellectuals currently living in Kathmandu, and a section of disillusioned and naïve people in the Tarai hinterland. This of course is certain to not long last given the ever-changing agenda of the party and track record of the power-hungry leaders.
Hence, the best option for the RJPN is to work for the revival of party’s lost power, weak organizational structures and leaders’ management. The party, already a shaky one after the exit of many leaders and cadres from many districts, should prepare a solid ground for its own engagement and take part (not exploit) in the historical local level polls in the third phase scheduled for September 18.
The next yet crucial thing the RJPN should do is to continuously engage with the major political parties including the CPN (UML) to win the latter’s favor in support of the statute amendment. This will bring double benefits to the RJP-Nepal doubly– end the souring relations with UML and also get the constitution amended for a safe landing back to politics in the plains. This will also take the RJPN into a win-win position, with a face-saving opportunity for its tainted leaders. The sooner the better it is for the party. This would be apt for the RJPN to benefit even after the missed two opportunities.
Finally, the RJPN should clear the cloud of misunderstanding and end trust deficit by its action, and by immediately announcing its decision to partake in the third phase of the local level polls. Hope, the matured leaders of the RJPN would opt for a midway to negotiate and win the people’s trust. RSS