Unity Talks In Limbo
When the erstwhile CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre announced their party unification last year, a section of Madhesi civil society and intellectuals started talking about the prospect of the unification between Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal. They had argued that if the two big left parties, which indulged in bitter rivalry in the past, could unify, why could the two-Madhes-centric parties not follow suit as they shared similar political goals and social base?
They exerted pressure on both the regional parties to get united, stating that the unification between the two was the aspiration of the Madhesi people and this would have positive implications for the entire Terai politics.
Like the dissolved UML and Maoist Centre, the FSF-N and RJP-N fought the previous federal and provincial elections forging an electoral alliance. Like the unified CPN heads the federal government, the two Madhes-based parties lead the government in State 2. However, one thing is starkly dissimilar. The CPN leads the central and si x state governments on the back of their joint strength. But the FSF-N and RJP-N are coalition partners in State 2 government.
A few months back, FSF-N chairman Upendra Yadav wrote to the RJP-N leadership for the merger of the two parties. Though the leaders of the both parties have failed to hold even a single meeting for the purpose, they have formed their separate talks team and corresponded letters with each other, showing a serious gesture for the unification.
On April 9, Sharat Singh Bhandari, current convenor of RJP-N’s party presidium, replying to the letter of FSF-N, informed that his party has set up a talk team under its member of the party presidium, Rajendra Mahato.
The FSF-N has already formed the similar team led by its co-chair Rajendra Shrestha.
When FSF-N chair Yadav had sent the first letter to the RJP-N, Mahato had floated the precondition that the FSF-N had to quit the government before the start of unification talks.
However, chairman Yadav, who is currently the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health and Population, had responded that remaining in the government or quitting it was the secondary issue. The most prominent issues for the unification are the principles and ideology as well as modality for the structure of the unified party.
The two parties have yet to start their talks for unification. Only after they hold a few rounds of talks, it will be clear whether the two sides are sincere to the unification process.
Even if the two Madhes-based parties have shown spirit for the talks, they are likely to hit the ideological snag. Both the parties come from different political schooling. Most of the FSF-N leaders have left-leaning while majority of the RJP-N leaders carry liberal democratic values.
Another major obstacle is to finalise the modality of leadership for the new party. It is an uphill task to adjust all the heavyweights of two parties. The RJP-N is running under the six presidium members. But FSF-N chair Yadav wants to replicate the leadership modality of ruling CPN with two chairs but most of the RJP-N leaders are unwilling to accept it.
(Yadav is journalist at The Rising Nepal)
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