LOCAL POLL II On Balance

Even with the postponement of the second phase of local elections by weeks for June 28, RJPN’s participation in the elections is unlikely

June 4, 2017, 5:36 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 10, NO. 20, June 2- 2017 (Jestha 19, 2074)

With the decision to amend the election laws and postpone the second phase of elections for June 28, the government is expecting that Rastriya Janta Party Nepal (RJPN) will join the local elections.

However, RJPN, which has been launching a nationwide campaign against the elections, is unlikely to join in the fray. RJPN workers are already padlocking and vandalizing the election offices in different parts of the country.

After successfully holding the first phase of elections peacefully, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who is going to hand over the government baton to NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba next week, is overenthusiastic.

“I am confident that RJPN will take part in the elections once the election law is amended to settle the issue of distribution of symbol and time for the preparation of candidates,” said Prime Minister Dahal. “As CPN-UML has already said that they will consider the amendment of constitution following the elections, I will push the agenda for constitution amendment after the elections.”

At a time when ruling parties, Nepali Congress and Maoist Center, and opposition CPN-UML have already started election campaigning by selecting the candidates for the next poll, RJPN leaders are preparing their candidates for the next round of agitation to obstruct the elections.

“Our bottom-line is the amendment of the constitution, with the number of local bodies decided on the basis of population," RJPN leader Rajendra Mahato told New Spotlight. "If they are ready to amend the election law through a fast track, what hinders them to amend the constitution the same way.”

“Leaders of three parties have been cheating Madheshis with false promises. How can we trust this government to amend the constitution and increase the numbers of local bodies in Madhesh when it is unable to take the administrative decision like withdrawing the false cases against Madheshi agitators, paying the compensation and declaring them martyrs.”

With the stay order of the Supreme Court, the issue of withdrawing the case against the Madhesh agitation and increasing the numbers of new local bodies in Madhesh is uncertain. Similarly, the government has distributed the money but it is yet to take a decision to declare those killed in the six months of the Madheshi agitation as martyrs.

Given the stay order it place, it is unlikely that any change in the current state of local bodies will be made. Similarly, the government has also stopped the proceedings to withdraw the cases.

As the possibility of fulfilling major demands of RJPN is hanging on a balance at the moment, RJPN cannot have any justification to prove their participation in local poll to legitimatize the constitution. More than 60 Madheshis were killed and hundreds of others wounded in opposing the same constitution, blamed to be non-inclusive.

“We have already shown an optimum level of flexibility by withdrawing the demand of rewriting the constitution. If three parties do not agree a just amendment, we don’t have any option other than to fight,” said Mahato.

As three major parties including NC, CPN-UML and Maoist Center and two Madhesh based parties, Terai Madhesh Loktantrik Party and Sanghiya Samajbadi Party, have decided to take part in the elections, elections may be held in the plains.

However, given the current situation, RJPN workers will make it hard for elections to be smooth in many districts, villages and municipalities. “If we start to fulfill demands of each of them, nothing can be possible in the country. There must be the second round of elections as scheduled,” said K.P. Sharma Oli.  

RJPN leader Mahato has his own argument. “We are ready to sacrifice more youth to establish our right of equality and end the discrimination. Our participation is unlikely until the real amendment,” said Mahato.

As RJPN is challenging the very foundation of constitution, Prime Minister Dahal is stressing its full implementation. "I am convinced that the achievements ensured by the constitution would be institutionalized with the building of the important foundation for constitution implementation after holding of the election to the local level, province and the federal legislature," said Dahal.

RJPN is not alone outside the constitutional process. A faction of Maoists under the leadership of former rebel Netra Bikram Chand is launching a nationwide violent campaign against the present constitution. Similarly, there are formidable numbers of followers of former monarch, who is isolated by the three parties to sit outside the current politics.

Given Nepal’s long history of leaving a faction or two outside the political process, a problem for the future, it is likely to see these forces combining to threaten the present constitutional regime.

With so many contradictions and disputes, the constitution has so many flaws that it is creating constitutional frictions among the institutions. The recent example is the constitutional disputes involving the judiciary, legislature and executive branches. Following frequent interventions on the executive order by Supreme Court, Nepali Congress and Maoist Center even registered an impeachment motion against Chief Justice Sushila Karki.

"Not only the door to political stability has been opened with the holding of the first-phase of the local level election, but the journey to economic prosperity and positive change in the lives of the people has also begun. I have the deep faith that with the conclusion of the upcoming second-phase local level election, the people's representatives would assume their responsibility at the grass-root level, which would be a leap forward towards political stability and development in Nepal," the Prime Minister stated.

With so many pressures of major political parties, the local elections will be held on June 28. However, the presence of three political forces outside the constitutional process will continue to put Nepal in a state of instability.

 

 

Keshab Poudel

Keshab Poudel

Poudel is the editor of New Spotlight Magazine.

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