POLITICS Storms Ahead

With the completion of the second round of local election, politics is going back to some new power game again

July 9, 2017, 12:48 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 10, NO. 22, July 07, 2017 (Ashadh 23,2074)

Following his 40-minute, one-to-one, meeting with prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba at his office in Singhadurbar on July 4, Rashtriya Janta Party leader Mahanta Thakur returned in a tense mood.

According to unconfirmed reports in the local media, Thakur then went to the Indian Embassy, Lainchaur, and met the Indian Ambassador. Thakur expressed anger against the working style of PM Deuba, who is said to have expressed his commitment to amend the constitution before the third round of elections.

“Enough is enough. The grace period for this government is over. Our party will take a major decision within a few days after the meeting,” Thakur told New Spotlight, hinting at the possibility of withdrawing his alliance's support to the government. According to sources, the RJPN, which is unhappy with the constitution and has boycotted the local level elections, will decide a firm political course for the future.

Thakur’s anger has a political meaning. In the last few days, RJPN is burying its differences with CPN-UML, meeting with that party's second-rank leaders. “In politics we have to negotiate with all political parties. We are now talking with CPN-UML leaders on the issue of constitution amendment."

After edging marginally past the two major rivals, CPN-UML is now desperately waiting for the right time to dislodge this government and form another government aiming to be the largest party in the coming provincial and national elections.

CPN-UML leaders know that they must join the government to win the national elections. Thus, they are preparing a mood to support the constitution amendment bill to woo the RJPN.

“The party is optimistic about endorsing a new constitution amendment bill if tabled in the Parliament in consent with the party. The government should withdraw the constitution amendment bill presently tabled at the Legislature-Parliament,” said Pradip Gyawali, secretary of CPN-UML. There is the need to forge consensus in order to amend the constitution. “UML is not against the constitution amendment. We can amend the constitution before the third phase of local level elections in province number 2 on September 18.”

This is a major shift in the policy of CPN-UML. It indicates that CPN-UML will support the constitution amendment bill in case parties agree to dislodge this government.

“We are ready to align with the parties which support our agenda,” said RJPN leader Keshav Jha, revealing that his party's leaders have already held a few rounds of negotiations with CPN-UML.

As internal party rifts deeply intensify, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is yet to announce the expansion of his cabinet. It is reported that the difference is simmering even within the Maoist Center. Given the track record of Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda in changing alliances in the power game, one cannot rule out the possibility of him withdrawing the support to this government.

At a time when CPN-UML is in a desperate mood to go to the government, Maoist leader Prachanda’s fickle mindset and RJPN’s growing anger with NC leader Deuba can make everything likely in the ensuring power politics.

In that case, new alliances, which ultimately push the possibility of holding the elections for province and center by January 17, 2018, are likely.

Although deputy prime minister and foreign minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara visited India, his failure to see Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also carries a significant message. With a lot of leverage in Nepal’s internal politics, this move speaks volumes about what India is like.

Expressing open opposition against the new constitution and showing a low-level resentment on Nepal joining the 'Belt & Road' Initiative, India has made a recent posture that has a political meaning.

Given all these internal squabbles in the ruling parties, the main opposition's move to patch up the difference with RJPN and other external gestures, a big political move is like to push the country into another direction.

The fresh mandates the people's local representatives have received and the fresh political mood following the success of the local elections cannot prevent a major political turbulence from looming in the horizon.


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