Saturday, April 17, 2021

JSP should be part of government, conditions apply


Few weeks back Upendra Yadav, executive president of the Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) was in Jaleshwar, Mahottari. He came as the chief guest of the programme organized by his party. I was at the district administration office (with my personal business). The office is located just besides the building of district coordination committee, the venue where JSP’s programme was conducted. As I got the information about Yadav’s arrival, I rushed to the programme and determined to listen to him minutely because his mobility in Province-2 had hiked up after the dissolution of the parliament. He was vocal in criticizing Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

In Jaleshwar, I noted a single point out of his entire fiery speech. He said, “Since we joined Madheshi politics, we have been divided many times. Whenever we went to Kathmandu after winning election(s) we requested for few seats in the cabinet with any other so-called national parties.” Yadav’s remarks made me wonder how he had just been ousted by the Oli government from Ministry of Health and Law. More importantly, on the basis of his speech it can be said that he had a suspicion about JSP leaders that politics of the country is slowly taking new shape and there would be different poles inside the party.

Many factions

There are cracks within the party. It is not difficult to understand that the mathematical game of parliamentary politics has drawn a thick line of probable division among the leaders at the forefront. Currently, there are two major clear factions in the party. First is led by Mahantha Thakur and the other by Upendra Yadav. Even though Baburam Bhattarai runs a small camp, his overall influence is not significant.

In the last few weeks, volley of meetings have excluded Upendra Yadav. More interestingly, Thakur, who used to be the president of the then Terai Madhesh Democratic Party (TMDP), has his own kind of influence in Madheshi politics. Cadres close to Thakur have had several inside meetings to revive TMDP. There is more. They have deep connection with the so-called Independent Political Group of Hridayesh Tripathi, the sitting minister of Health and one of the confidants of PM Oli. Tripathi’s group had contested elections using electoral emblem of Oli’s party. After the dissolution of the parliament Tripathi had said that he would form a party. In this regard, it’s important to know that Tripathi and Thakur used to be the part of TMDP and were close to each other.

Unity between Yadav and Thakur’s party was done in haste. Even now, this party has not realistically unified. These two camps have different opinions and stances regarding the formation of a new government.

The chemistry between Upendra Yadav and Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" is an open secret.

Due to the inner nexus between Tripathi and Thakur, the compulsive inclination of this group should be towards Oli. If JSP reaches the point of fragmentation, Baburam Bhattarai obviously would join the second camp (that of Upendra Yadav). Amidst these three probable situations, geopolitical manoeuvrings too cannot be ignored.

Bargain and illusion

With the possibility of Prachanda withdrawing support to Oli government, the debate on power sharing has intensified. Naturally, each party in the opposition has to find its own space within the government. In fact, in parliamentary system opposition party is meant as the ‘government in waiting’. In the similar vein few leaders of the JSP are also expressing that they can cooperate with the existing government or any probable one. In this regard, JSP would bargain with some demands in the market of power equation as this has become a common thing in parliamentary politics. Meantime, we need to pay attention to whether it is really for addressing the issue or preparing to go to the government only!

The demands that JSP is supposed to put forward are: a) release of elected parliamentarian Resham Chaudhary who is behind bars in a "false" allegation during Madhesh movement, b) make public the report of High Level Enquiry Commission (HLEC) popularly known as Lal Commission and c) constitutional amendment.

The scribe thinks that there is a possibility of dismissing the "false" allegations inflicted upon the protesters. Even if Resham Chaudhary is supposed to be released, he would be let go only on one or the other condition. Oli would not dare to provoke the security enforcement of Nepal as the latter is prejudiced against Resham Chaudhary. But there is a big room for doubt on the issue of amending the constitution because when Nepali Congress had tabled the bill of constitution amendment in the parliament KP Oli had rejected it. More importantly, amending the constitution by a simple majority government is impossible.

About the essence of constitutional amendment to address the agenda raised by Madheshi protesters it can be said that Kathmandu would be happy to seek ‘dead peace’. Otherwise, it should be serious about dealing with the lingering unaddressed issues of marginalized communities. Whosoever comes in government should be responsible to the nation instead of the prime minister.

Taking the above mentioned concerns into serious consideration, JSP joining hands with any party is welcome.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in the article are writer's own. Lokantar does not necessarily endorse them.

Published on 11 March 2021