Madhesi parties in bid for poll alliance

Published On: May 22, 2017 03:54 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 21: Three Madhes-based parties have inched closer to forging an electoral alliance in a bid to compete with the national parties in the second-phase  local elections slated for June 14. 

The three parties -- Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) and Nepal Prajatantrik Forum-- have already reached an understanding on forming an alliance,  according to the party leaders involved in negotiations. 

The modality of the alliance, however, remains to be decided. 

“We are considering two options: either fielding joint candidates or forming a working alliance. The final meeting will take place once RJPN makes a formal decision to take part in the polls,” said Nepal Prajatantrik Forum General Secretary Ramjanam Chaudhary. 

RJPN has so far refused to take part in the local elections. The party, which was formed two months ago following a merger among six Madhesi parties, has put forth constitution amendment and increase in the number of local units as preconditions for participation in the polls. 

Since the conclusion of the first-phase  local polls on May 14, top leaders of the three parties have held nearly a dozen separate and joint meetings to discuss a common framework for alliance. The meetings were held at the behest of Nepal Prajatantrik Forum Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar.

Despite agreeing on the alliance, Madhesi leaders still appear divided over the details. 
FSFN leaders have proposed  fielding cross-party candidacies and using common election symbols. FSFN Chairman Upendra Yadav told Republica that the alliance can be effective if the Madhesi parties field common candidacies. 

“Discussions are in progress with all like-minded forces to decide appropriate strategies for the elections,” said Yadav, without divulging details of the discussions. 
FSPN leaders said that Yadav is trying to seal a deal at least with the Bijaya Kumar Gachhadhar-led party. 

In the informal discussions, RJPN leaders have stood in favour of a working alliance wherein all parties will field candidates. But the parties will support each other on a seat by seat basis. 

Talking to Republica, RJPN leaders confirmed talks of a possible alliance but insisted that it would be too early to comment. 

“Since the party has not taken any decision regarding the polls, it would be too early to make any comments. But there is strong possibility of an alliance should we go to polls,” said RJPN Vice Chairman Hridayesh Tripathi. 

RJPN leaders said that the party would take an appropriate decision over participation on the basis of the steps the government takes to address their demands.

“One thing is certain: we won’t join the polls under existing circumstances. But we can think about participation  if the government agrees to address at least one of our two demands: constitution amendment and increase in number of local units,” said Tripathi.

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