LAHAN, December 14: As homework begins to form the government in Province 2, the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) and Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN), which secured the most parliamentary and provincial assembly seats in the province, have initiated talks on merging the two parties.
Buoyed by the number of votes they secured after forging an electoral alliance during the parliamentary and provincial assembly polls, the two parties have expedited talks on unification, according to party insiders. The two parties together have secured a clear majority under the first-past-the-post (FTPT) category in the provincial assembly polls.
Out of the total of 64 provincial assembly constituencies in Province 2, RJPN and FSFN have won 35 constituencies, which is enough to form a majority government.
Party insiders say negotiations have already started between the two parties to form the government. According to a senior RJPN leader, there has been an agreement to give the post of chief minister to RJPN and that of deputy chief minister to FSFN. However, negotiations are still ongoing for the allocation of ministerial portfolios.
“There is a need to hold intense negotiations for party unification,” said a member of the RJPN presidium, Raj Kishor Yadav.
“We are currently busy going door to door to thank our voters. We will hold unification talks in a few days among the senior leaders, including FSFN Chairman Upendra Yadav and RJPN's senior leaders," said Yadav.
Yadav said RJPN is taking an initiative for party unification. “Top leaders of both parties are serious and positive about unification, in view of the mandate given by the people in the recent elections,” said Yadav, who is acting as mediator in the unification process.
FSFN Chairman Yadav said his party has taken the proposal to unite the two parties positively. “We have to honor the mandate of the Madhesi people. I won't be an obstacle to unification,” he said.
Yadav said they received overwhelming support from the Madhesi people after they forged an electoral alliance, drawing a lesson from the local level elections. “It is difficult to institutionalize the rights of the Madhesi people unless we are united. There is no alternative to unification for a strong Madhes government and for the prosperity of the province,” he further said.
Another senior leader of the RJPN said they have started working on unification after doing a minute analysis of the hope and trust expressed by the Madhesi people during their door-to-door visits after the elections.
“The mandate we have received is for making Madhes prosperous and proud. We won't betray the trust reposed in us,” said RJPN General Secretary Manish Kumar Suman. “We must be united to make this province a model. It is difficult to ensure cooperation and support unless we are a house united.”
Top leaders of both RJPN and the FSFN seem serious this time as they have learned their lesson from defeat in previous elections. In the first Constituent Assembly elections in 2008, the three Madhesi parties--Madhesi People's Rights Forum-Nepal, Rastriya Janata Party Nepal and Sadbhawana Party-- had won in 35 of the total of 48 constituencies in the area now included in Province 2.
However, the parties subsequently fragmented and were able to win only four of the constituencies in the second Constituent Assembly (CA) polls held in 2013. These parties had a strong presence of 92 seats in the first CA (including proportional representation seats).
Yadav, who is a former information and communications minister, said most Madhesi leaders had to face defeat as they could not unite for the second CA polls. “We have reached a point where we need to ponder seriously. Unity is certain but the homework needed may take some time,” he added.