KATHMANDU, Oct 26: A serious dispute has surfaced between the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) on one hand and Madhes-based parties Rastriya Janata Party and Federal Socialist Forum (FSFN) on the other over electoral alliance in Province 2 for the upcoming parliamentary and provincial assembly polls.
The dispute emerged as RJPN and FSFN together have demanded at least 24 out of the total 32 parliamentary constituencies for their share in Province 2. It will be recalled that the provincial assembly constituencies are exactly double the number of parliamentary constituencies.
However, NC wants at least 18 parliamentary constituencies in its share, leaving only the remaining 14 for RJPN and FSFN.
A senior RJPN leader involved in negotiations with NC over the electoral alliance said they have proposed supporting NC in constituencies adjoining the East-West Highway in exchange for NC's support to RJPN and FSFN senior leaders contesting the polls from Province 2. "We have asked NC to support our senior leaders in return for our support to NC candidates in constituencies adjoining the East-West Highway, where UML has a strong presence," the leader said, asking not to be named.
Sources said NC has officially requested RJPN not to field Rajendra Mahat in Dhanusha 3 where NC is planning to field Bimalendra Nidhi. Similarly, NC has also asked RJPN and FSFN to support NC candidate Amaresh Kumar Singh in Sarlahi-4. "Our position is clear. We cannot leave both these constituencies to NC," the leader further said.
As the parties need to settle their constituency sharing issues within a few days, RJPN leaders Mahantha Thakur and Sarbendra Nath Shukla had reached the Prime Minister's Official Residence at Baluwatar for negotiations Tuesday evening. Sources said they have not been able to reach any final agreement on the number of constituencies to be shared among them.
Senior RJPN leader Keshab Jha said they are still in negotiations with NC over the sharing of constituencies. "While we have a compulsion to maintain an alliance with NC, we are not in a position to relenquish the number of constituencies that NC is now seeking," he said.
Earlier, RJPN and FSFN had decided to forge an electoral alliance between them in the inner belt of Province 2 and support NC in the highway areas in order to thwart the possible victory of the leftist alliance. Leaders said fresh negotiations are underway to forge electoral alliance even in constituencies lying in the inner belt as their failure to close ranks there could eventually benefit the UML-Maoist alliance.