Pressure builds within RJPN for poll participation

Published On: July 26, 2017 01:45 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, JULY 25: The party should stay prepared for the third phase of local elections, second rung leaders of Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) have said as they warned top leaders against repeating the mistakes the party made during the first two phases of the local polls.
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. 

Addressing the party's internal meeting, several RJPN leaders on Tuesday said that the decision to boycott the polls, especially the second phase of local polls, was a mistake that caused irreparable loss to party organization.
Stating that the party had incurred huge loss due to top leaders' half-baked plans to boycott the elections, the leaders stressed need for contesting the planned civic polls at any cost. Eight districts of Province 2 are scheduled to go to the polls on September 18.
"The party would be left behind if we boycotted polls once again. The party's entire focus should be on the upcoming local polls and the provincial and federal elections. We need to be extremely careful before taking any decision," said RJPN General Secretary Jitendra Sonal, stressing that the party should participate in the polls with or without constitution amendment.

He said boycotting the polls in Province 2 could have severe impact on party organization and discourage leaders  working at the grassroots.

RJPN has put forth constitution amendment as a precondition to contest the elections. Despite relentless efforts, the government has not been able to endorse the constitution amendment bill that remains stuck in parliament since its registration in April. The government still appears short of around three dozen votes required to pass the amendment.
 RJPN leaders advocating for polls participation say that the party should take part in polls while simultaneously pushing the demands for statute revision and creation of another province in the western plains. 
RJPN leader Manish Kumar Suman said that it was right time to rethink the party's "flawed stance" to participate in polls after amendment. He criticized the top leaders for highlighting the constitution amendment bill as cure of all problems facing Madhes.
"Leaders are acting as if the constitution amendment bill will solve all the problems of Madhes. The party is sending a wrong message to the public. The party should be more careful in framing its agenda," said Suman. Several Madhesi leaders including Suman have been advocating for reviving the demand for one province in the entire tarai.    

Several other leaders who spoke during Tuesday's meeting criticized the top leaders for failing to learn from the reluctance of parties in the governing alliance to endorse the bill. They said that the amendment bill was deliberately delayed to bar the party from contesting polls.
"NC and CPN (Maoist Center) wanted to stop us from contesting the polls. And we acted as per their wishes. Many in the party think that this happened due to shortsightedness of our leaders," an RJPN leader told Republica. He said that most of the second rung leaders have stood in favor off contesting the polls once their non-political demands are met.
  The party is expected to come up with a concrete decision through party's first central committee scheduled to take next week. 

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