September 13, 2017 04:00 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, SEPT 13: Disputes over the ticket distribution for Province 2 elections have further widened the already wide rift among various factions of the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) with presidium members boycotting the poll campaign of candidates loyal to rival camps.
RJPN, which was formed through merger among six Madhes-based parties, has been seen as one of the strong contenders in the September 18 local elections.
RJPN leaders said that the presidium members have divided the eight districts of the province among themselves and decided to campaign only in the assigned districts. The top leaders have taken the overall charge of the districts where they had played key role in candidate selection. The party had divided tickets among the presidium members after they failed to select candidates unanimously.
As per the understanding reached among the RJPN top leaders, Sharat Singh Bhandari has decided to oversee the poll campaign in Parsa and certain parts of Mahottari district. Bhandari, who hails from Mahottari district, was closely involved in selecting poll candidates in the two districts.
Similarly, Raj Kishor Yadav has been assigned the job of overseeing poll campaign in Siraha and Saptari districts. Three other presidium members Rajendra Mahato, Anil Kumar Jha and Mahendra Raya Yadav have agreed to campaign in one district each. As per the deal, Jha and Yadav will lead poll campaigns in Rauthat and Sarlahi district respectively. Mahato, on the other hand, has taken responsibility of poll campaign in Dhanusa district.
RJPN coordinator Mahantha Thakur, who is reportedly ill, will campaign in some select constituencies. The leaders, who are currently in Kathmandu, are planning to head for the assigned districts by this week.
RJPN leaders said the presidium made such arrangement after leaders refused to campaign in the districts where they were not involved in the candidate selection.
"The leaders would not just be responsible for the poll campaign, they have also agreed to take full responsibility for the poll outcomes in the district," said RJPN Vice Chairman Brishesh Chandra Lal.
Second-rung leaders of the party said that the party campaign has been badly hit due to the delay by the top leaders in visiting the tarai. Most leaders are still in Kathmandu even as the polling day is just a few days away. Moreover, top leaders representing the western tarai, who are not happy with the existing "dominance of leaders from the central and eastern plains in the party" appear disinclined to participating in poll campaigns in Province 2.
"There is overwhelming support for our party on the ground. If we lose, it would be due to poor candidate selection and ego problems of our top leaders," said an RJPN leader.