KATHMANDU, May 4: A day after its allies in the United Democratic Madhesi Front accused the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) of 'betraying the Madhes movement and Madhesi people' by taking part in the local elections, FSFN Chairman Upendra Yadav defended his party's decision saying that the move was necessary to safeguard the historic achievements.
Yadav also disclosed that the party decided to join the election process after Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal gave assurance to endorse the constitution amendment proposal after the conclusion of the first phase of the local level elections slated for May 14.
Ignoring the UDMF's official position to boycott the polls process, FSFN on Tuesday filed candidacies at the Election Commission. Hours later, the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), a constituent of the UDMF, denounced the FSFN move as an act against the feelings of Madhes and Madhesi people.
But Yadav on Tuesday said that his party decided to participate in the elections to safeguard the historic achievements including federalism, republicanism and secularism. He claimed that regressive elements would have had hijacked those achievements had his party not decided to join the election process.
"It became necessary to join the election process to stop the country from going backward. It was important to prevent the country from regression," Yadav told reporters during an interaction at party headquarters on Tuesday.
Talking separately to Republica, Yadav said that they agreed to join the election process partly because Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and other leaders of the ruling parties have promised to put the amendment bill to a vote in parliament before the country goes to the second phase of local polls. Though the government was initially preparing to endorse the constitution amendment bill before the date for filing electoral nominations, it was later aborted after a section of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party leaders refused to support the bill.
"We have kept our word and helped the government in the elections. The government should keep its word and ensure that the new amendment bill is endorsed in parliament," said Yadav.
Yadav also claimed that other Madhes-based parties would also join the second phase of the local elections. Of the seven provinces, four provinces in the tarai plains, the base of the Madhesi parties, are slated to go to polls on June 14.
Contrary to Yadav's claims, leaders of the ruling Nepali Congress and the CPN (Maoist Center) said that the parties have not made any commitment to ensure the bill's endorsement.
Prime Minister Dahal's chief political advisor Chakrapani Khanal said that it is too early to say whether the bill would be endorsed in the given time.
"We had hoped to endorse the bill soon after it was registered but could not do that. Consensus among the major political parties is crucial for passing the bill," said Khanal.
One more thing that makes a constitutional amendment unlikely before the second phase of local polls is the election code of conduct. The Election Commission's code of conduct bars the government or parties from doing anything that could have potential impact on the outcomes of the elections.