June 19, 2017 01:30 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, June 19: Even as the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) maintains that there has been no change in its decision to boycott the local polls, several leaders from the party have filed their candidacies as independents to contest in the second phase of the local elections scheduled for June 28.
The party fielded candidates in some select districts including Kapilvastu, Rupandehi and Nawalaparasi where it has comparatively better organization and support base. However, the party did not field candidates in districts where the party lacks good support base.
The Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party, one of the six constituents of the RJPN, had won two seats from Rupandehi in the second CA elections in 2013. It also has good support base in Kapilvastu and Nawalparasi districts.
Our reporters on the ground said the party's representatives fielded candidacy in more than 15 municipalities and rural municipalities.
RJPN top guns said they were unaware about the candidacies filed by their leaders.
“I also came to know about it through the media. There has been no consultation with the party. There has been no change in the party's decision. They might have filed candidacies voluntarily,” said RJPN Vice Chair Brishesh Chandra Lal.
Sources, however, said that the decision was taken by the party's central leadership after analyzing the ground situation. RJPN top leaders including Mahantha Thakur, Rajendra Mahato, Anil Kumar Jha and Rajkishore Yadav, who are currently touring Province 5, gave their consent just hours before the deadline for filing candidacies on Sunday.
“Except for Thakur, other leaders were not in favor of contesting the elections. But they too gave up after realizing that there was not enough support for polls, so the party decided not to participate in the elections,” said an RJPN leader.
RJPN leaders, who had threatened to disrupt the polls, were reportedly disappointed with the poor turnout in their anti-election activities.
RJPN leaders said that the party will now turn its anti-election campaign into election campaigns in some districts of Province 5. Later on Sunday, the party also withdrew a general strike called for June 26 and 27 considering that it overlaps with Eid ul-Fitr festival of Muslim community. Some say the decision was intended to appease the Muslim voters who constitute a significant portion of RJPN's support base in Province 5.
Though many see RJPN's participation in the election as an indication of change in its strategy, Lal claimed that the party will continue its protest against the local polls.
“There has been no change in the scheduled protest programs of the party,” Lal told Republica.