Lawmakers of Thakur-Mahato faction could give up their seats and form a new party


The Election Commission today recognised the Upendra Yadav-Baburam Bhattarai faction of the Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal as the authentic party after 34 members of the party's 51-member executive committee supported the faction during the support verification process.

Only 16 members of the executive committee supported the Mahantha Thakur-Rajendra Mahato faction. JSP-N lawmaker Resham Chaudhary, who has been convicted for Kailali carnage, was allowed to come to the EC from prison to express his support.

Chaudhary, who stayed neutral during the trust vote, told mediapersons that he had immense respect for Mahantha Thakur. The leader's status was that of Bhishmapitamaha of Mahabharata epic who supported Duryodhan. Chaudhary said he was an honest and committed cadre of the JSP-N and could not side with a faction. Chaudhary, who lower courts have convicted in the Kailali carnage case, has challenged his conviction in the Supreme Court. He said he wanted justice, not pardon.

EC Spokesperson Raj Kumar Shrestha said the EC bench that had conducted hearing before decided to give legitimacy to the Yadav-Bhattarai faction's claim of authenticity as majority members were with the faction.

A source at the EC said the Thakur-Mahato faction could open a new party if they wanted to, but if lawmakers supporting their faction chose to stay with the faction and the Yadav-led JSP-N took action against them, then they could lose their seats.

The EC source added that JSP-N lawmakers of the Thakur-Mahato faction could give up their seats and join a new party that the duo could open.

The Yadav-Bhattarai faction's counsel Senior Advocate Raman Kumar Shreshta said lawmakers of the Thakur-Mahato faction and other representatives in all tiers of the government were bound to follow the faction if they didn't want to lose their elected posts. He said the Thakur-Mahato faction did not have 40 per cent support in the executive committee and parliamentary party to split the party.

The Yadav-Bhattarai faction lawyer Senior Advocate Mithilesh Kumar Singh said only eight of the 34 lawmakers of the party were with the Thakur-Mahato faction, and some of them could switch to the Yadav-Bhattarai faction.

The feud between the two JSP-N factions had intensified with the Thakur-Mahato faction's decision to support KP Sharma Oli's bid for prime ministership under Article 76 (5), and the Yadav-Bhattarai faction's decision to support Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba's bid for premiership under the same article.

The EC refused to recognise Thakur's claim of reshuffling the executive committee on grounds that the details of the reshuffle were not updated at the EC.

Mahato said they had rescued Yadav last year by agreeing to unify his Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal with the Yadav-led Samajbadi Party-Nepal when Yadav's party was on the verge of split.

Mahato said his faction's bid to form an alternative force to champion the cause of marginalised communities would continue. "This is a technical split of the JSP-N and I believe that the people of the country are the main deciders of a political party," he said.

Mahato said his faction would decide on the next course after July 30 when the Supreme Court would decide whether to issue an interim order in the case.

He said all three parties - CPN-UML, Nepali Congress, and the CPN-Maoist Centre - were the same for Madhesis because they had promulgated the new constitution suppressing the Madhes agitation against the constitution.

JSP-N lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna, who is close to Mahato, said his faction wanted unity but Upendra Yadav was against it.

Ram Sahay Yadav, who is close to Upendra Yadav, said the EC's decision had cleared the decks for the party to carry out its policies across the country. He said the EC's decision would help the SC take a decision on the dispute on July 30.

The Thakur-Mahato faction has challenged the EC's decision not to give legitimacy to Thakur's decision reshuffling the party's executive committee.

The EC said in its verdict that if the Thakur-Mahato faction sought to register a new party under Section 44 (6) of the Political Party Act, it would register it deeming it to be a separate political party.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 27 2021, of The Himalayan Times.