RJPN threatens to disrupt polls in other tarai districts too

Published On: June 16, 2017 08:17 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 15: The Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) on Thursday said there will be no change in its plans to disrupt local elections in the other districts of the tarai that are going to  polls in the second phase. RJPN leaders said this in response to the government’s  decision Thursday to postpone polls in Province 2.

With the poll deferral in Province 2, only 10  districts in the eastern and western plains are scheduled to go to polls in the second phase on June 28. 

RJPN leaders said the decision was unacceptable as they were seeking poll deferral in all provinces until their demands are met. 

RJPN’s announcement comes as a big blow to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s government, which on Thursday afternoon decided to hold polls in Province 2 in a third phase on September 18.  The agitating party has not given any commitment to participating in the polls on the new date. 

RJPN leaders said their demands should be met before going to polls, an unlikely proposition given the lack of political consensus on  constitution amendment and the other political demands of the agitating party.  

“Postponement of the local level poll does not address our demands. Our demands will not be addressed unless the constitution is amended. It has postponed the election to sideline our demands,” RJPN leader Rajendra Mahato told Republica. He said that the agitating parties would now focus on disrupting polls in Provinces 1 and 5. 

NC and CPN (Maoist Center) leaders said the poll was postponed at the behest of RJPN top guns including Mahantha Thakur, Mahendra Raya Yadav and Sharat Singh Bhandari, who had privately agreed not to disrupt polls in other regions.  But not all RJPN leaders are supportive of this informal understanding. 

RJPN leaders including Mahato, Raj Kishor Yadav and Anil Jha, who did not attended Thursday’s meeting with the government, have declared that they are not obliged to honor the unwritten understanding.   

Even as the deferral decision is expected to give some immediate relief to the government, the  postponement might just be the beginning of new difficulties  for the Deuba government. It is likely to face further obstacles in holding polls in the third phase as the RJPN remains non-committal to  the new date. 

The poll postponement has come as good news for the RJPN.  It is not only  a symbolic win for the agitating party but also gives them a chance to invest all their energies in disrupting polls in the other tarai districts. 

RJPN Vice Chairman Hridayesh Tripathi said that the polls should be postponed in all tarai districts. He said  the agitating party would not allow  polls in other districts of the tarai where the polls have not been postponed. 

“We cannot accept elections in Province 5 under the existing circumstances. We will not only boycott the polls but also strongly oppose them,” said Tripathi.

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