KATHMANDU, May 2: A party merger deal between the ruling Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) and the Baburam Bhattarai-led Naya Shakti Party has stalled, with the former declining to quit the government as demanded by the latter.
According to interlocutors from both parties, Naya Shakti has demanded that FSFN should be ready to stay in the opposition for the next five years after the unification, among other things. But Deputy Prime Minister Upendra Yadav-led FSFN has not agreed to quit the KP Oli-led government immediately, said sources close to the party.
Leaders from FSFN said that Naya Shakti has sought a 40 percent stake in the unified party and demanded that the party should quit the government after the merger, which was not acceptable to their party for now. The Oli government has garnered a two-third majority only with support from FSFN.
The largest political party in Province 2, FSFN has 18 seats in parliament while Bhattarai’s Naya Shakti has one member in parliament and one in the provincial assembly of Province 3.
Merger negotiations between FSFN and Naya Shakti also covered the political agenda and ideology, said sources. The Bhattarai-led party has demanded that FSFN accept a directly elected executive of the country and a fully proportional representation category election system for parliament. Leaders from both parties are still at odds over these two issues, said interlocutors.
Both parties are close to an understanding on dual leadership of the party, with Bhattarai as chairperson and Yadav as executive chairperson until the general convention but it has not been finalized yet.
“We have agreed on a new name for the unified party, a new party flag and election symbol but other key issues are yet to be settled,” said a Naya Shakti leader involved in the negotiations.
Leaders from both parties have held rounds of negotiations for party merger but have not reached any conclusion so far, said sources. “A final round of talks is likely between key leaders from both parties on Thursday.
They are expected to decide whether to go ahead with merger or backtrack,” said a FSFN leader requesting anonymity.
Naya Shakti and FSFN had used the same election symbol and fielded consensus candidates in the three tiers of elections in 2017.
Later the two parties formed a three-member panel to carry out party merger negotiations but the initiative faced a roadblock as key leaders from Naya Shakti protesting the unification negotiations threatened to quit the party. Most of those against the unification move quit Naya Shakti prior to the 2017 parliamentary and provincial elections.