KATHMANDU, March 21: The Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) has formed a five-member team to hold merger talks with the Federal Socialist Party Nepal (FSFN), paving the way for formal dialogue in the merger process that was in limbo since a year and a half.
A week after a closed door meeting held at Hyatt Regency entrusted presidium member Rajendra Mahato to start formal dialogue, RJPN on Friday gave complete shape to the talks team by appointing Brishesh Chandra Lal, Ramesh Yadav, Sunil Rohit and Keshav Jha as its members. One more member is likely to be added in the talk team soon.
RJPN leaders said that the talk team will now start dialogue with FSFN, besides exploring possibilities of merger with other regional parties.
“Leaders from both sides appear positive about merger. It's a good sign. But a lot remains to be done for identifying the problems and working on prerequisite for merger. The talk team will do that,” Lal told Republica.
RJPN and FSFN, two regional parties which run a coalition government in Province 2, had first announced merger talks on the eve of the federal and parliamentary elections. But the merger process was stalled largely due to infighting in the RJPN.
RJPN formed its talks team four months after the FSFN announced such team. On December 9, FSFN had formed a panel under party co-chair Rajendra Shrestha to undertake talks and had notified about it a month ago.
The renewed interest in talks from both sides has raised hopes of merger between the two parties although leaders say they might be months, if not years, from a deal.
Leaders from both the parties have felt the need for merger in view of increasing polarization in the national politics. The regional parties, which used to have important role in coalition government, are feeling the heat after the Nepal Communist Party, a product of a merger between the erstwhile UML and CPN (Maoist Center), won a comfortable majority in parliament. Despite bolstering its performance in the parliamentary elections, RJPN is poised to remain outside the government for the next four years. On the other hand, FSFN joined the government accepting two ministerial portfolios.
CK Raut's entry into mainstream politics has also added pressure on the two parties which have been expecting one more challenger in the already crowded sphere of the regional politics.
Senior leaders from the two parties had explored possibility of merger with the NCP after the latter swept the center and six of seven provinces in order to avoid a situation of remaining outside the power. But the talks couldn't make headway amid objection from the party rank and file and a fear of possible backlash from Madhesi electorate.
Shrestha said that merger with regional parties was top priority for the party because they were on the same page in terms of agenda.
“The unity should be guided by agenda. Other things come later,” said Shrestha.
Despite closeness in agenda, leaders say a deal doesn't look easy due to leadership issue and need to manage aspiration of leaders. The management of RJPN leaders looks particularly challenging as the party has six presidents all of whom hope to secure position in the party.