July 6, 2017 05:30 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, July 6: The Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) has decided to kick off its election campaign in Province 2 without making any formal announcement about participating in the local polls.
RJPN leaders on Wednesday said the party decided to initiate the poll campaign after sensing a design by the Nepali Congress to keep them out of the elections by deliberately ignoring calls for constitutional amendments.
The party's leaders said they would contest the third phase local polls scheduled for September 18, with or without constitutional amendment.
RJPN leaders said they were forced to reconsider their decision to boycott the polls after a section the leadership and some cadres took part in the second phase local elections, ignoring the party's official call for the boycott.
The party, however, plans to simultaneously push for constitution amendment before the planned elections.
“The recent public remarks of the prime minister and his body language have made it clear he is not sincere about any amendment. Rather it appears the NC wants to keep us out of the elections. We will tell the people about this and appeal for their support during the polling,” said an RJPN leader. The election campaign will begin after the registration of the party with the Election Commission, he added.
Rajendra Mahato, one of the six leaders in the RJPN presidium, said the party would expose the poilitical parties that are against constitutional amendment. Mahato said RJPN would simultaneously campaign for amendment.
The exposure campaign is likely to be targeted at Nepali Congress, which is seen as RJPN's main rival in core terai constituencies.
RJPN leaders have hinted that the party is considering withdrawing the support it has given to the NC-led government before going to polls. On Tuesday, RJPN Chairman Mahanta Thakur threatened Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba with withdraw of support if their demands, including constitution amendment and increase in the number of local units, are not met before the polls take place.
However, NC leader Gopal Man Shrestha, who is also minister for education, said there was no possibility of any constitution amendment before the polls, given the lack of consensus among major parties.
RJPN, which was formed through unification among six Madhes-based parties in April, has also started its homework for party registration. Its leaders said the party would likewise soon form a team for candidate selections.
“The biggest worry at the moment is candidate selections since we were six parties before with separate organizations and leaderships. There will be problems in each constituency,” said an RJPN leader previously affiliated with the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party. Several leaders from the western terai have threatened to quit the party for placing them and their constituencies at the bottom of the priority list. Some of them have even alleged that the RJPN presidium is trying to scapegoat the western terai for the sake of electoral gains in Province 2. The province is home to the six chairmen of the party, which operates under their collective leadership.
The party is facing similar challenges in drafting the party statute and expanding its organization on the ground.
On Wednesday, RJPN leaders aborted plans to register with the Election Commission after Anil Jha, one of the six in the presidium, raised objections over the wording of the party statute.
“We were hoping to register the party today. But it could not happen due to some minor differences over the wording of the party manifesto. It might take a couple of days more to sort out the issues. The party will be registered after that,” said Mahato.