KATHMAN DU, Aug 5: Several influential leaders of the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) have stopped going to the party office expressing dissatisfaction over delays in resolving the long standing row over the party’s leadership.
RJPN leaders said that several second rung leaders from the western region including Vice-chairman Hridayesh Tripathi, Sarbendra Nath Shukla and Brijesh Gupta have shunned regular party activities and meetings. The leaders and their loyalists have long been calling on the party presidium to ensure equal and proportionate representation in the party leadership and in lower organizations.
Tripathi and Shukla have also skipped the party’s office bearers meeting underway in the capital since last week.
Similarly, few other influential leaders from eastern Nepal like Brishesh Chandra Lal and Laxman Lal Karna have started skipping regular party activities, expressing their reservation over the sharing of responsibility among key party leaders.
“Leaders like Lal and Karna are not happy with the presidium for keeping them in the same bucket with young leaders from fringe parties like Sanghiya Sadbhawana Party and Nepal Ganatantrik Forum. They say that they should be given right space based on their statures in the party,” said a senior RJPN leader.
Leaders said that dissenting voices are growing stronger everyday due to the failure of RJPN’s presidium to address the concerns of leaders from the western region.
Instead of addressing their grievances, many in the party presidium including Rajendra Mahato, Raj Kishore Yadav and Anil Kumar Jha have threatened to take action against Tripathi and Shukla for working against the party line.
RJPN leaders from the western region have been blaming the party leadership for putting them and their party at the bottom of their priority list. In a recent conversation with Republica, RJPN Vice-chair Tripathi accused the party of systematic exclusion of leaders representing constituencies lying west of the Narayani River. Tripathi, like many other disgruntled leaders, has been expressing open dissatisfaction after he was reduced to a subordinate role to his political juniors like Mahato, Jha and Yadav.
RJPN, which was formed through a merger among six Madhes-based parties in April, is literally in the grip of leaders from the central and eastern Terai.
The RJPN presidium comprises six leaders, all from the eight districts of Province 2. There is similar bias against the western Terai in the party’s lower bodies, including the central working committee. The 815-strong central working committee includes only 115 leaders from the western Terai. Similarly, only 11 percent of the office-bearers are from that region.
Leaders divided over poll participation
A group of RJPN leaders has insisted that the party should not take part in the local elections unless their demands related to constitution are addressed. Addressing the party’s office-bearers meeting underway in the capital, leaders close to three influential RJPN leaders including Rajendra Mahato, Anil Jha and Raj Kishore Mahato maintained that the party should stick to its original decision of poll boycott if their demands are not met.
Some other leaders, notably Mahendra Raya Yadav and Sharat Singh Bhandari, are in favor of participating in the polls. They said that another poll boycott would prove devastating for party organization.
RJPN and some fringe parties in the Federal Alliance had fully boycotted the first phase of the local elections and fielded independent candidates in some constituencies in the second phase of the local elections. Leaders advocating participation in the polls have said that another boycott will push the party toward political oblivion. They said that the party should contest the polls while simultaneously pushing its agendas.
RJPN leaders present in the meeting said that party coordinator Mahanta Thakur’s stance is likely to be decisive on poll participation.
“He (Thakur) has not yet clarified where he stands on the issue of poll participation. He has expressed support to both camps,” said a leader.