RJPN leaders hit the road to foil polls

Published On: June 18, 2017 07:58 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, JUNE 17: The Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) has directed its leaders and cadres from Province 2 to join the party’s anti-election campaign in the eastern and western plains that are going to the polls on June 28.  The call comes two days after the government announced poll postponement in Province 2. RJNP wants polls postponed in all the terai districts. 

RJPN leaders said their leaders and cadres have been asked to join the party’s protests in various districts. The party has announced  protest actitivies, including strikes, to disrupt the work of the polling officers and the election campaigns of other parties. 
“Top leaders have already left for the districts of Provinces 1 and 2. More leaders and cadres will join them in the coming days,” said one RJPN leader. RJPN top guns including Mahanta Thakur, Rajendra Mahato, Anil Kumar Jha and Rajkishore Yadav left for the western terai on Saturday. They are currently in Rupendehi and are scheduled to lead anti-election campaigns in various districts including Kapilvastu, Nawalparasi, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Kanchanpur. 

A few other RJPN leaders have been asked to go to Morang and Sunsari districts in Province 1. 

RJPN leaders said that they are planning  all possible measures to disrupt polls in Province 5.  RJPN Vice Chairman Hridayash Tripathi said  the party will strongly oppose the elections. 

“In postponing polls in just one province the government has further excluded the Madhesi community. We still ask the major parties to defer polls until the constitution amendment. It would be unfortunate if that does not happen,” said Tripathi. 

While RJPN protest activities are unlikely to affect the polls in Province 1, they could have some impact in some districts of Province 5. The party has a significant support base in the northern parts of Nawalparasi, Rupendehi and Kapilvastu. Security forces could face some challenges in maintaining poll security in Kanchanpur and Kailali also where Tharu protesters lynched eight police officials during violent agitations in 2015. 

Some RJPN leaders said the party would revise its anti-poll strategy after analyzing how far it has succeeded in foiling the candidacy nominations scheduled for Sunday. Some said that there is still a chance that the party will field independent candidates in some Madhesi stronghold areas. 

But RJPN leader Rajendra Mahato said  the party would not join the second phase polls at any cost.

“We will not take part in the polls without constitution amendment,” Mahato said during an interaction program in the capital on Saturday. 

Three injured in Nawalparasi clash
At least three people were injured in Ramgram of Nawalparasi district during clashes between security forces and RJPN supporters  Saturday. Rameshwor Kushwaha, Narshiha Chaudhary and Suresh Gupta sustained injures after Nepal Police open fire with rubber bullets. Police said  they had to open fire  after the protesters tried to disrupt the poll campaigns of other political parties. Police  also said that the protesters attacked them with stones,sticks and iron rods  while they were trying to disperse the mob.

Eyewitnesses said that the protsters  also burned the flags of parties going to the polls.
RJPN leaders, however, said the clashes occurred while they were staging a peaceful protest. Issuing a statement, RJPN Vice Chair Birkesh Chandra Lal condemned what he called excessive use of force on peaceful demonstrations.

Talking separately to Republica, Lal said  the police  also arrested a few RJPN leaders including Haider Ali.  “The government should stop the polls and take the disgruntled parties on board. If it goes ahead with the polls, there will be strong retaliation from our side. We will do whatever possible to foil the polls,” said Lal.

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