We will support any party that assures us constitutional amendment. Parliamentary arithmetic after the election is such that bringing any amendment to the constitution is not possible without UML support. -- Keshav Jha, RJPN general secretary
KATHMANDU, Jan 8: As 'quiet' negotiations are underway among parties on the formation of new government, two Madhes-centric parties are mulling over supporting the CPN-UML, which is doing homework to form new government as the largest party in the recently held parliamentary polls.
Senior leaders of the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) said they are in informal negotiations with top leaders of UML for the formation of new government. "We will support any party that assures us constitutional amendment. Parliamentary arithmetic after the election is such that bringing any amendment to the constitution is not possible without UML support," said RJPN General Secretary Keshav Jha.
As such, the leaders of both the Madhes-based parties are nudging the UML through both formal and informal channels to soften its stance toward their demands. While FSFN Chairman Upendra Yadav has had several rounds of meetings with UML Chairman K P Sharma Oli, RJPN senior leader Rajendra Mahato is also in informal negotiations with UML leaders Agni Kharel and others, according to sources.
The leaders of the two parties have assured the UML that they would support the UML to form government if the party softened its stance on constitution amendment. They have demanded a clear assurance from the UML on amending Article 274 of the constitution to pave the way for the formation of a new province and change the boundaries of provinces.
In the recently held parliamentary elections, the UML secured 80 seats, CPN (Maoist Center) 36 seats and Nepali Congress 23 seats under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system. Likewise, RJPN and FSFN each secured 11 and 10 FPTP seats, respectively.
The elections were held for 165 seats under the FPTP and 110 seats under the proportional electoral (PR) system. Although the Election Commission (EC) is yet to allocate seats under the PR system, it is likely that the UML alone will have a total of 121 seats in the 275-member parliament. Similarly, the NC is likely to have around 63 seats and Maoist Center around 53.
As the UML is preparing to form new government with suppor from the Maoist Center, the FSFN and RJPN are weighing options on whether to extend support to the government led by the UML, which Madhes-based parties accused of not being 'friendly' to the cause of the Madhesi people.
Asked about the possibility of joining the UML-led government, a senior FSFN leader said it is still too early to conclude whether the leftist alliance of the UML and Maoist Center will last.
"Political dispensation may change by the time the National Assembly elections are held on February 8, as a section of parties are even lobbying to form new government led by the Maoist Center. But our party is ready to extend support to the UML-led government if it made commitment to fulfill our demands regarding the constitution," said FSFN Co-Chairman Rajendra Shrestha.
An amendment to the constitution requires two-thirds majority seats in parliament. The support of UML, which will have a total 121 seats in the total 275-member parliament, is a must to secure two-thirds majority votes in parliament for amending the constitution. "We are ready to support the UML-led government in case the UML-Maoist alliance falls apart," the leader further said.
FSFN and RJPN to form govt in Province 2
FSFN and RJPN which forged electoral alliance in Province 2 have reached an understanding to form new government in Province 2 under the leadership of the FSFN.
According to senior FSFN and RJPN leaders, FSFN will take the chief minister's post while the RJPN will take the deputy chief minister and provincial assembly speaker.
The seven ministerial berths will be shared between them on equal basis, according to the leaders.
In the provincial assembly elections, FSFN has secured 29 seats including 9 PR seats. The RJPN likewise has secured 25 seats including 10 under the PR system.