Update: Elections in Province 2
The government’s decision to conduct Local Elections in Province 2 in the third phase has created a schism in the agitating Rastriya Janata Party – Nepal (RJP-N). On Thursday, the government decided to postpone the scheduled polls in Province 2 to September 18, claiming this was on the request of the RJP-N.
The government had held talks with RJP-N leaders Mahantha Thakur, Mahendra Yadav and Sarat Singh Bhandari, but Anil Kumar Jha, Rajendra Mahato and Raj Kishor Yadav were missing.
After the meeting, Mahendra Yadav told media the government reacted positively towards their demands. “We have put forth our views. And if the government agrees on our position, everything will be fine,” he says.
Following this meeting, the government decided to postpone local elections in Province 2. But elections will take place as planned on June 14 in Provinces 1, 5 and 7.
RJP-N leaders, who were absent in the Thursday talks, continue to insist on Constitution amendment before the elections.
Raj Kishor Yadav, RJP-N leader
There is no agreement with the government. The postponement of elections was never our agenda. This is a government propaganda to deflect from the main political issue.
As yet, the RJP-N has not made public its official position on the government decision to postpone the elections in Province 2. They have also not called off planned protests (timeline below) against scheduled elections.
Mahendra Yadav and Sarat Singh Bhandari were reportedly in favour of elections while the other leaders have consistently maintained the need for Constitution amendment before the polls.
The alliance of Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Centre) was formed to address the concerns of Madhes-based parties, who have been demanding the revision of provincial boundaries and local units. The government does not have the two-third majority required for amendment to the Constitution.
The government effort to create 22 local units in 12 Madhes districts (when) was shot down by the Supreme Court on the grounds that only a designated Constitutional Commission can create local units.
“The postponement of elections in Province 2 has nothing to do with the demands of Madhesi parties,” says Tula Narayan Shah, a Madhesi analyst. “The amendment to the Constitution is the only solution to the current crisis.”
Shah argues there will be no change whatsoever in the number required to pass the Amendment bill, which has already been registered in Parliament. He says, instead of convincing the Opposition party, the government has offered a proposal that agitating parties had never bargained for.
The main opposition CPN-UML, which has been vehemently opposing the demands of Madhes-based parties, has criticised the government’s decision to defer the local elections saying this infringes upon people’s right to elect their representatives. They say the deferral has weakened national unity and promoted separatist forces. The UML has vowed to block the Constitution Amendment bill.
Previously, when ‘Prachanda’ Puspa Kamal Dahal’s government had mustered the required majority to pass the amendment bill, the then ruling Rastriya Prajatantra Party members had not shown up to vote in Parliament.
The two other Madhesi parties: Upendra Yadav-led Sanghiya Samajbadi Party and Bijaya Gachchhedar’s Nepal Lokatantrik Forum, have decided to participate in the polls. They participated in the first round of local elections as well.
Due to the deferral of the elections in Province 2, the Election Commission has extended the time for filing candidacy by two more days – from June 16 to 18.
June 18: Candidate Nomination
Display photos of Madhesi
martyrs in all polling centres
June 19: Filing complaint against the nominees (if any)
Lathi (stick) rallies in district headquarters
June 20: Publish final list of candidates and distribute election symbols to them
Intensify obstruction of election process
Motorcycle rallies in district headquarters
Torch rallies in district headquarters
Indefinite general strike
June 28 Election Day
At the moment it is unclear how long the indefinite strike will continue till, or how it will affect election day