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RJPN rejects poll deferral

Friday, June 16th, 2017

The Madhes-based RJPN has refused to call off its agitation even after the government deferred local elections in Province 2 as per its demand. The alliance of Madhes-based parties said Friday the government had postponed polls without its consent, and it will continue with its protest programs.

On Thursday, after a meeting with RJPN leaders, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had given in to the party’s own demand and decided to hold local elections in Province 2 only on 18 September. Leaders of the ruling NC-Maoist coalition had said the RJPN  agreed to not obstruct local elections in other three provinces on 28 June.

On the other hand, the government’s decision to hold local elections in Province 2 only after the monsoon came in for strong criticism from the Election Commission, the main opposition UML, Upendra Yadav’s FSFN and other fringe parties.

Now, the party for which polls were postponed by nearly three months has said it does not go far enough, rejected it, and vowed to continue its anti-election protests.

Hoping that the RJPN will also participate in the second phase of local elections on 28 June, the government had postponed the nomination deadline to 18 June. But the RJPN on Friday announced a general strike in the Tarai timed for that day, aiming to prevent other parties from nominating their candidates.

RJPN leader Raj Kishore Yadav told journalists in Janakpur on Friday: “There will be no elections in the Tarai unless the Constitution is amended.”

In their meeting with Prime Minister Deuba, RJPN leaders had asked the government to postpone elections in Province 5 as well. But Deuba agreed to postpone elections only in Province 2.

Nepal has already held its first local elections in two decades in three of its seven provinces. Voters in other four provinces are now excited to elect their municipal, village and ward councils, but the RJPN says elections can be held here only after addressing its demand for amending the Constitution.

Two other major Madhesi parties, Upendra Yadav’s FSFN and Bijaya Gachhadar’s Nepal Democratic Forum, have agreed to participate in local polls. And they are more organised than the RJPN in several plains districts.

Analysts say the RJPN has continued to move the goalposts because it fears losing badly in the Tarai in local elections, even in Province 2.


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