KATHMANDU, Nov 29: A recent decision of the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) that it will be headed by its top leaders on a rotational basis has pushed the Madhes-based party to the verge of a split.
Sources said leaders of the party close to the erstwhile Tarai Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP) led by Mahantha Thakur are trying to revive their old party, alleging that the others on the RJPN presidium had removed Thakur as coordinator in “unceremonious fashion”.
The other RJPN leaders, however, have defended the move, saying it was taken in accordance with the statutory provision on heading the party on a rotational basis among the presidium members.
A meeting of the RJPN last week had taken a majority decision to appoint Rajendra Mahato as coordinator. Sources said leaders close to Thakur have taken strong exception to remarks by Mahendra Raya Yadav that Thakur was incompetent when it came to handling the party.
RJPN was formed through the merger of six Madhes-based parties led by Mahantha Thakur, Rajendra Mahato, Mahendra Raya Yadav, Sharat Singh Bhandari, and Anil Kumar Jha ahead of the June 28 local elections last year. The internal rift following the change in party coordinator has grown to such an extent that Thakur skipped the RJPN meeting called for Tuesday.
RJPN leaders who voted against Thakur to elect Mahato as coordinator have accused Thakur of nepotism and favoritism and of never honoring the party statute when it came to appointments and other crucial decisions.
Thakur had allegedly taken unilateral decisions to benefit leaders of the erstwhile TMDP, ignoring competent leaders belonging to other parties that came under the RJPN umbrella.
Meanwhile, expressing serious dissatisfaction over the failure of the government to expedite the constitution amendment process despite its past pledges, the RJPN has decided to withdraw the support to the government.
The party took the decision after Mahato was elected its coordinator. Mahato had earlier announced that the party would withdraw its support from the government after the Chhath festival observed some three weeks ago. “The government has shown no sign of addressing our demands. Our next meeting will take a decision to withdraw its support from the government,” said RJPN General Secretary Keshav Jha.
The RJPN has a total 17 lawmakers in lower house and two in the upper house. Although the RJPN’s withdrawal of support does not make any difference to the government’s survival, it certainly puts a question over the commitment of the Oli government to addressing the constitutional grievances of Madhes-based parties.