Kathmandu, June 10
Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal leaders told Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other leaders of the ruling parties that they would not participate in the second phase of local polls unless their key demands were met.
The RJP-N has, among other things, demanded that the constitution amendment bill be passed and the number of local levels be increased in the Madhes in proportion to the population of the region.
According to RJP-N Presidium member Anil Kumar Jha, the PM urged RJP-N leaders to take part in the second phase of local polls, saying amendment to the constitution was not possible before the second phase of local polls.
Deuba also told them it would be difficult to grant the party a new symbol and hence the RJP-N should use an election symbol used by one of the six parties that merged to create a unified RJP-N.
“We told the PM that election symbol was also an issue, but first we wanted the constitution amended and the number of local levels increased in the Madhes in proportion to the population of the region,” he added.
Jha also said when the ruling parties told RJP-N leaders that there was not much time left to address their concerns as the second phase polls were around the corner, the RJP-N leaders asked the ruling parties’ leaders to defer the poll date. “It was only when the ruling parties told us that addressing our concerns was not possible due to lack of time that we told them to defer the poll date. The prime minister told us that the date for second phase of local polls could not be changed,” Jha said, adding that if the government did not have enough time to address the concerns of the RJP-N, then the RJP-N could not be blamed. “It was not us that created this situation. It was because the ruling parties’ leaders wanted to become prime minister and they could not do enough to address our concerns,” Jha added.
Both sides are expected to meet tomorrow.
Jha said if things were not settled by tomorrow, then the RJP-N and the Federal Alliance would announce fierce protest against the second phase of polls. “We will create a storm of protest in Madhes, Tharuhat and Limbuwan,” Jha added.
RJP-N leaders also told the ruling parties that if they sincerely tried to address their concerns, they (the ruling parties) could do that. “We told the meeting that the CPN-Maoist was given 83 seats in the Interim Parliament even when there was no legal ground for it. This means that if they want to address our concerns, they can easily find a way out,” Jha added.
CPN-MC leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha said the ruling parties told RJP-N leaders that two demands — passing the constitution amendment bill and increasing the number of local levels in Madhes was not possible before the polls. “We told the RJP-N leaders that if they wanted to register their party with the EC, the government was ready to help with that. We also told them they could use a symbol of one of the six parties that comprise the RJP-N,” Shrestha said. He said the ruling parties would continue to hold dialogue with the RJP-N but would hold elections on June 28 even if the party did not participate in the polls.
A version of this article appears in print on June 11, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.