NC between rock and hard place in seats deal with alliance partners
October 27, 2017 06:36 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Oct 27: The ruling Nepali Congress (NC) has found itself between a rock and a hard place, with the smaller parties in the so-called democratic alliance showing little sign of compromise in seat adjustments for the parliamentary and provincial assembly elections.
NC, which hastily put together an alliance with five smaller parties soon after the formation of the left alliance, seems not to be in a position to either let go of its alliance or agree to the seat-sharing arrangements demanded by the smaller parties.
Losing the alliance will not only erode the ability of the grand old party to stand up to the emboldened left but could also push some of its new-found allies into the opposite camp. But giving the seats demanded by the smaller partners in the alliance is going to be even costlier.
The situation is such that there would be nothing left for NC if it gives the seats demanded by the smaller parties, said party leaders. Out of 165 seats in parliament under the first past the post category, the smaller parties have demanded at least 65 seats.
The stake demanded by the parties is more than what the NC can afford as a majority of the seats in question are the party’s traditional bastion. If the party gives these seats to its smaller allies, it would be left with very few seats its leaders have prospects of winning.
The seats demanded by Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) will prove particularly costly. The two parties have demanded 12 seats each in Province 2, leaving NC with just eight for itself.
“That’s our bottom line. We came up with the number based on our internal calculations. If NC wants an alliance, it should be ready to leave our bastion to us. We will support it in its own bastion,” said Brishesh Chandra Lal, a RJPN leader who is engaged in seat-sharing negotiations.
Lal said they demanded that NC give them 24 seats, during a meeting with NC leaders including Bimalendra Nidhi and Minendra Rijal, on Thursday. Nidhi told RJPN and FSFN leaders that they would make their views clear after an internal meeting. The next meeting will take place after the Chhat festival, according to NC leaders.
Cross-party leaders said the number of seats is not the only thing hindering consensus between NC and the two regional parties. They said that claims for particular seats by leaders from both sides is also causing problems. For example, NC Vice-president Nidhi and RJPN Chair Rajendra Mahato have both staked their claim over Dhanusa-3. Neither of them is willing to give up that seat.
“There are around a dozen seats like Dhanusa-3 where top leaders from all parties have made their claims. But I think there will be some way out if there is a deal on the overall seat adjustment,” said a member of the RJPN presidium.
NC has already reached a tentative agreement on seat-sharing with Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal and Rastriya Prajatantra Party Democratic, the two royalist parties. The two parties will get seven seats each, according to NC leaders.
Bijaya Gachchhadhar-led Nepal Loktantrik Forum has already merged with NC. Gachchhadhar’s camp is expected to get five seats.
While the alliance with regional parties may not make a big difference in NC’s performance in the hills and mountains, it is going to be crucial in bolstering its performance in the terai plains and some parts of the eastern hills.