The Upendra Yadav-Baburam Bhattarai faction of Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal has said it will not accept Rajendra Mahato as parliamentary party leader.

Media outlets reported that a gathering in Bhaktapur of 19 lawmaker from the Mahantha Thakur-Rajendra Mahato faction had chosen Mahato as PP leader. Mahato said the lawmakers had informally said they wanted to elect him.

The Yadav-Bhattarai faction issued a press release saying media reports were false. Mahantha Thakur also issued a press release saying the party had not called its executive committee, implying that he did not deem today's meeting valid.

The Yadav-Bhattarai faction said there was no chance of electing a PP leader as the party had not made the parliamentary party statute and neither had it completed the integration of parliamentary parties of Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal and Samajbadi Party-Nepal nor had it finalised the PP statute. Besides, the PP statute had to be endorsed by the party's executive committee.

JSP-N co-chair issued a press release saying there were media reports that the party's executive committee meeting had been called today at 1:00pm though the party had not called any such meeting.

JSP-N lawmaker Mohammed Ishtiyak Rai said the informal meeting of the party's executive committee had condemned the Thakur-Mahato faction's recent activities and decided to form a committee to probe the meeting.

He said lawmakers were taken to a Bhaktapur resort and an attempt was made to influence them. He said party leaders should abide by majority decisions of the party's bodies and if they did not, they should part ways. "Our party statute stipulates that majority decisions prevail and this is the rule in all democratic parties," he added.

The Thakur-Mahato faction is soft on KP Sharma Oli's government and says if the government addresses the party's demands, support can be extended to the government, whereas the Yadav-Bhattarai faction says the party should try to topple Oli's government and help form the next coalition government.

On Monday, 15 lawmakers from the Thakur-Mahato faction stayed neutral in the PM's floor test, while 15 lawmakers from the Yadav-Bhattarai faction voted against the PM's vote of confidence motion.

Last year, PM Oli had amended the Political Party Act through ordinance allowing a party to split with the support of 40 per cent members of the central committee or the PP. Fearing that Oli was trying to engineer splits in their erstwhile parties, they had unified their outfits.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 16, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.