As the second phase of the local elections in Nepal has been scheduled for June 28, Steering Committee members of JOMPOPS are staying outside Kathmandu, preparing for the elections at local level. It has thus not been possible to organize a formal SC meeting of JOMPOPS, which on June 11, led the chair to hold an informal gathering of the JOMPOPS SC members to address the decision of Rashtriya Janata Party–Nepal to only participate in the elections if certain constitutional amendments, committed to by the NC-Maoist alliance, are delivered on.
New Political Developments
As per the political agreement, Sher Bahadur Deuba, President of the Nepali Congress (NC) – the largest party in Parliament – was sworn in as the new prime minister on June 7, succeeding Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal from the Maoist party. This NC-led coalition government will be supported by the Maoist party which is the third largest in the Parliament and a group of smaller parties including the Madhes-based parties. Essentially, this government is supported by five JOMPOPS member parties, making the Unified Marxist Leninist party – the second largest party in the Parliament – the only JOMPOPS member party in the opposition.
The new prime minister has announced that the main priority of the government is to complete all three elections, including the second-phase of the local elections within the deadline of the new Constitution i.e. February 2018. The immediate priority is to complete the second-phase of the local elections in Province One, Two, Five, and Seven.
The key challenge to this objective is that one of the major Madhes-based parties, Rashtriya Janata Party–Nepal (RJP-N) has decided not to participate in the elections unless certain constitutional amendments, committed to by the NC-Maoist alliance, are delivered on. Earlier, the NC-Maoist alliance has been unable to pass the constitutional amendments due to its inability to garner a two-third majority in Parliament, required to pass the constitutional amendments. Other demands of the RJP-N, such as increasing the number of local units or allocation of its new election symbol, have neither been fulfilled by the alliance as committed.
To address this situation, the JOMPOPS Chair organized an informal SC meeting to explore various alternatives to ensure the participation of RJP-N in the local elections. All the JOMPOPS SC members are senior and influential leaders inside their respective parties. Hence, they can play a significant role in finding resolution of current political problems.
A Unique Avenue for Exploring Political Solutions
The chair started the meeting by congratulating Jeetendra Dev, who had recently become the Minister for Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation. The Chair said that JOMPOPS is delighted to have a minister among its members. Mr. Dev thanked the Chair and all the JOMPOPS members for their kind words and expressions of support, and said that he would endeavor to make JOMPOPS proud as a Minister. He also shared his political journey with other JOMPOPS members, emphasizing that patience is the key in politics.
Soon, discussions on the current political situation began. Most SC members expressed concern about RJP-N’s unwillingness to participate in the elections, which could lead two other Madhes- based parties – Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal and Nepal Loktantrik Forum – to also boycott the elections. It was made clear that it would be unfortunate for the country if such a situation was to pass. Hence, the members decided to explore various alternatives to ensure the elections with the broader participation of all the major political forces in the country.
The SC members agreed that it was useful to have such informal interactions on crucial political issues because JOMPOPS offers a unique avenue to the major political parties to come together and explore solutions to political challenges.