RJP-N to par­tic­i­pate in third phase polls

People's Review - - FRONT PAGE - By Our Re­porter

The Ras­triya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N) that boy­cotted the first and the sec­ond phases of lo­cal elec­tions had agreed to par­tic­i­pate in the third phase of lo­cal elec­tions sched­uled for Septem­ber 18 in Prov­ince 2. How­ever, the gov­ern­ment should ta­ble the con­sti­tu­tion amend­ment bill in the par­lia­ment to en­sure their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the polls. Af­ter hold­ing a marathon meet­ing of the party cen­tral com­mit­tee, the RJP-N on Fri­day agreed to par­tic­i­pate in the lo­cal polls sched­uled for Septem­ber 18 if the gov­ern­ment put the con­sti­tu­tion amend­ment bill for vot­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the agree­ment, the gov­ern­ment also promptly de­cided to put the con­sti­tu­tion amend­ment bill to vote af­ter the RJP-N agreed to ac­cept re­sults of the vot­ing. The bill, how­ever, was not tabled in par­lia­ment by the time this story was de­vel­oped. The RJP-N, a uni­fied force of six erst­while Mad­hes-based par­ties, did not take part in the first lo­cal polls held on May 14 and June 28 de­mand­ing that the con­sti­tu­tion be amended be­fore hold­ing the lo­cal polls. Two devel­op­ments of last week were be­lieved to make the RJP-N pos­i­tive to­wards the polls. First the Supreme Court's de­ci­sion to al­low the ad­di­tion of lo­cal units in the Prov­ince -2 paved the way for the gov­ern­ment to meet one of their key de­mands—adding lo­cal lev­els on the ba­sis of pop­u­la­tion. Se­condly, Nepal visit of In­dian Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj to at­tend the Min­is­te­rial Meet­ing of the BIMSTEC last week was also mean­ing­ful to con­vince the RJP-N to take part in polls. Many be­lieved that Sushma ex­erted pres­sure on the RJP-N lead­ers to par­tic­i­pate in the polls. If the RJP-N lead­ers did not change their stance, their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the third phase lo­cal polls as well as in the provin­cial and fed­eral elec­tions would be al­most sure. This would be the big­gest achieve­ment for the present Deuba-led gov­ern­ment be­cause the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment was un­able to con­vince the RJP-N to ac­cept the re­sults of vot­ing. As a re­sult, the con­sti­tu­tion amend­ment bill was never tabled for vot­ing. How­ever, it looks un­likely that the amend­ment bill will be en­dorsed by a two/thirds ma­jor­ity as the UML and Ka­mal Thapa-led RPP would vote against it. Ear­lier, when the RJP-N re­jected to ac­cept the re­sults of vot­ing, the gov­ern­ment was hes­i­tat­ing to put the bill for vot­ing. “RJP-N lead­ers urged the gov­ern­ment to move the amend­ment bill for­ward, say­ing they are ready to join the polls,” Maoist Cen­tre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha was quoted by a daily. The RJP-N's de­ci­sion to par­tic­i­pate in the polls comes a day af­ter the Supreme Court (SC) paved the way for adding lo­cal units in eight dis­tricts of Prov­ince 2. In­creas­ing the num­ber of lo­cal units was one of the de­mands of the RJP-N. The gov­ern­ment's ear­lier de­ci­sion taken on May 22 to in­crease 22 lo­cal units in 12 Tarai dis­tricts was stayed by the Supreme Court on May 26. But last week, the SC va­cated its ear­lier stay or­der and quashed a writ that chal­lenged the gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion.

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