Yadav’s Entry In Govt
The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has consolidated its grip on the government through its latest political move. The chairpersons of the NCP successfully roped in the Upendra Yadav-led Sanghiya Samajwadi Forum Nepal (SSFN) to join their majority government. Yadav’s entry into the government turned the ruling party into a powerful dispensation that now commands more than two-thirds majority in the federal parliament.
The NCP chairpersons, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, had brought Yadav into the government with the assurances of amending the constitution as demanded by the Madhesi parties-the SSFN and the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N).
The assurances from the top two NCP bigwigs helped Yadav soften up his stance and join the government. Subsequently, Yadav, who had not been in any government for the past seven years, was appointed as Health Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. As the DPM, Yadav is ranked third senior-most leader in the government after PM Oli and another DPM and Defense Minister Ishwor Pokharel.
The ruling party enjoyed a strong majority in the parliament after the unification between the then CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre. But the majority swelled into a whopping two-thirds majority after the SSFN with its 16 lawmakers in the House of Representatives, or the federal parliament, joined the government. Now, the two-thirds majority places the ruling coalition in an exalted position to effect any amendment in the constitution and take major political and other decisions.
The SSFN and another Madhes-based party, Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N), had earlier lent their support from outside to the Oli government. After the unification of the two ruling communist parties, the NCP leaders were out to bring Yadav into the government. Yadav was once a communist leader, who had contested an earlier general elections as a member of the then UML. He started raising Madhesh issues only after the successful people’s movement in 2006/ 2007.
Under Yadav’s leadership, Madhesh region witnessed a “successful” movement which ushered in new era in Madhes. The success turned him into a prominent Madhesh leader. Since then, Yadav and his partymen had raised the Madhesi issues vociferously, accusing the traditional parties, the then UML, Maoists, the Nepali Congress and others as anti-Madhes and pro-hill parties. Because of his relentless pro-Madhes demands, the Madhes parties successfully won the Province-2 elections against the traditional parties, which enabled them to form a coalition government with RJP-N in the province now.
After SSFN chair joined the government of NCP, all eyes are now on him regarding the amendment of the present constitution to “provide needful” rights to the Madhesi people. After his entry, many Madhes people have hoped that the government would address the demands of amending the constitutional provision on the citizenship, use of Hindi as official language of the Madhesh and number of parliamentary seats for the Madhesh on the basis of population and several other demands which have hitherto been termed as anti-national by the then UML.
With SSFN joining the government, the government can make the changes as per the demands raised by the SSFN and RJP-N. These two parties appear to have supported Oli government in the hope that the majority government would consider their demands positively. It can, however, be recalled that during his first tenure as the Prime Minister in 2015-2016, Prime Minister Oli had shown his deep dislike for amending the constitution as per the demand of the Madhesi parties. The PM had then termed the Madhesi demands as anti-national. Now, the PM is said to have been positive about the demands of two Madhes-based parties regarding the amendments to the constitution. It is also true that the PM Oli and chairman Prachanda had in the past expressed that the “genuine demands of the Madhes” would be addressed in earnest.
Now, everyone would be watching Yadav whether or not he would be able to convince the NCP leaders in amending the statute to address the Madhesi demands. If he fails in doing so, then his image as the leading Madhes leader would be dented as he could be taken as a “position-hungry leader”, who joined the government only to enjoy the trappings of ministerial portfolio.
He said that he joined the government after getting assurances that the government would amend the constitution. Much would depend on whether the government would work to dilute the demands of Madhesh. If any dilution in the demands of Madhes takes place, then the Yadav and his party would find itself at the receiving end. The RJP-N, which has still been demanding that the government should address all of their demands, may rethink about its alliance with the SSFN, and think about its political realignment with another party in the opposition, the Nepali Congress.
The entry of Yadav into the government happened despite the fact that the ruling NCP pulled out its support the party had given to the SSFN’s Chief Minister of Province 2. The NCP did so by accusing the chief minister Lal Babu Raut for his speech during the civic reception of the Indian Prime Minister in Janakpur last month. After Yadav’s entry, many now think that the alliance in Province 2 would change as NCP and SSFN are well placed to run the government in the province.
Talks are doing round that the Yadav led SSFN would unify with the NCP at any time. If this happens then the Yadav’s image as a prominent Madhes leader would receive a blow. The handling of Madhesi issues in the aftermath of Yadav and his party joining the government would also provide enough fodder to the Madhesis and others to evaluate the present NCP government regarding its attitude and stance vis-à-vis Madhes and its people.