August 23, 2017 01:45 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, August 23: The Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) has begun internal preparation to participate in the upcoming elections.
An internal meeting that kicked off in the capital on Tuesday is expected to finalize key elections-related issues including an election symbol, criteria for candidates-selections and set up various committees.
The meeting comes a day after the constitution amendment bill to revise provisions on citizenship, language, representation in the upper house and federal boundaries was defeated by 48 votes in parliament on Monday.
The government had tabled the bill at the behest of RJPN leaders who had pledged to take part in the elections irrespective of the fate of the amendment bill. The party had partially boycotted the first two phase of local polls held on May 14 and June 28.
Addressing the party's central committee, RJPN coordinator Mahantha Thakur had briefed about the party's decision to take part in the elections. Thakur had also presented the party's roadmap for the elections and sought inputs of the participants to finalize election symbol and criteria for candidacy-selection among other things.
More than 50 RJPN leaders had commented on Thakur's document presented on the first day of the two-day meeting. Leaders present at the meeting said that a majority of them had welcomed the party's decision to take part in the elections while campaigning anew for revision of the statute. They had stressed the need for an extensive campaign in Province 2 to expose the amendment-opposing political parties, notably the UML and the Rastriya Prajatantra Party. The UML and the RPP had rejected the amendment bill claiming that it was against the national interest. They also stressed the need for transparency in the candidates selection process.
A few leaders including Manish Suman, Devendra Yadav, Kausalendra Mishra had criticized the party's decision to take part in the elections. They insisted that the party should boycott the third phase of the polls in response to the defeat of the amendment bill. Eight districts of the tarai plains are scheduled to go to polls on September 18.
Leaders advocating for poll boycott suggested to the presidium to withdraw support to the government.
RJPN leaders said that the party presidium had agreed to take part in the polls even before the bill was tabled in parliament. They had anticipated the bill's defeat even before it was tabled in the House but they pressed the government to go forward with the vote as a face saver for joining the elections.
"We had made our mind to go to elections irrespective of the fate of the amendment bill. This does not mean that we have given up on our demands. The party will take this issue to the people," said RJPN Vice Chairman Hridayash Tripathi.