Nepal

Come together

Jan 16, 2018
The country’s attention is on the left alliance, as the two parties within it—the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre)—have not just won a massive victory in the federal elections but are also in a position to form governments in six out of the seven provinces. The only place where the left alliance is not dominant is in Province 2, where the Madhesi population overwhelmingly voted in the Sanghiya Samajwadi Forum Nepal (SSF-N) and the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJP-N).
 
This indicates that the Madhesi people continue to strongly support the agenda laid out by the SSF-N and the RJP-N. But this was not the only reason for the success of their coalition in the recent election. In the past, the Madhesi parties had faltered and weakened whenever they split into myriad small parties. In 2013, for example, they performed extremely poorly in elections because they were divided into so many small parties, which enabled the larger parties to take advantage of the situation.
 
Over the course of the last year or so, Madhesi parties have been acutely aware of their weakness. It is to their credit that so many of them came together and merged into the RJP-N. It is also to their credit that the RJP-N has managed to stick together firmly in recent months. Meanwhile, the SSF-N might not have agreed to join the RJP-N, but its leaders were careful to expand the organisation, and incorporate a wide range of people across the Tarai. These were important factors in the strong performance of these parties in the recent election.
 
Now, however, the RJP-N and the SSF-N face another important test. In order for the sake of stability and prosperity in Province 2, the two parties will have to stick together. Neither has the numbers to form government by themselves. Leaders from the two parties also recognise that they are natural allies, much closer to each other than each is to any other party. The parties have been discussing forming a joint government. But the process has not been easy.
 
The leaders of the two parties have been unable to figure out their power sharing arrangements. A few days ago there seemed to have been an agreement that while the SSF-N would get the chief minister position, the RJP-N would get the deputy chief minister and speaker of the provincial legislature.
 
Now, however, it appears that both parties are again bidding for the chief minister position. Some leaders talk of rotating the chief minister position, while others are opposed to it. No matter the eventual outcome, leaders from the two parties must recognise that it would be in the welfare of their parties and their constituents if they managed to stick together. They should continue negotiations with a strong intention to work together.
 
The Kathmandu Post, January 16, 2018

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