Former Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi was preparing to leave for Biratnagar to campaign for his party when Onlinekhabar met him on Friday. The conversation revolved around the government’s decision to conduct elections in three phases and the RJP’s decision to boycott elections. Translated excerpts:
There are many who say that Bimalendra Nidhi played a crucial role, as Home Minister, in postponing elections in Province 2. Why did the government postpone elections in Province 2?
The elections that are happening now are not taking place under normal circumstances. We have just made a constitution that has adopted the principles of federalism, republicanism, secularism and inclusiveness. As we were doing that we observed that there was dissent in Madhesh–some Madhesh-centric parties are still in agitation. I am of the opinion that we cannot say the decision to postpone the elections was wrong as it left the door open for a political solution to the agitation in Madhesh.
For example, if you go to doctor for a surgery, the doctor will take stock of your blood pressure and glucose level in the blood. If he finds that your body is not ready for a surgery, he will postpone your surgery. You may complain that the doctor postponed your surgery, but the doctor knows that the surgery cannot be performed until your blood pressure and sugar levels are stable.
Similarly, the elections were postponed to seek a solution to the problem. It was postponed so that all parties get to contest the elections.
So are you saying that the government did right by postponing the elections?
Yes. You can see that in election-related activities are going on smoothly in all districts. There are some places where RJP candidates are contesting as independents–to the worry of the UML. I am certain that the UML stands to lose a lot if the RJP contests the polls. The UML is worried when we are close to a solution to the problems.
As you said, the RJP has fielded independent candidates in the second round of elections. But if the party does not contest the third round of elections…
You just wait and watch. Let’s not get into Province 2 now.
But the RJP’s key demands: amendment to the constitution and the addition of local bodies in the Terai, still remain unaddressed.
So, let me ask you a question. Did the first Constituent Assembly finish making the new constitution? No. The second one did it. They used to say we will never get a constitution. We had to conduct two elections just to formulate the new constitution. If you remember that, you’d understand that it was wise of the government to conduct elections in phases.
Is there a guarantee that the RJP will contest the third round of elections?
There are a few issues it has raised. We have already assured the party that we will amend the constitution. There are a few things that the government has said it will do. We will fulfill the assurances that we have made and it will contest the elections.
Having said that, we cannot forget that the constitution says that elections at all levels should be completed withing January 2018. If we keep postponing elections, can we meet that deadline?
You can rest assured that the third round of elections will take place in September. But I cannot say that the RJP’s demand will be fulfilled. It is the UML that is obstructing the course. If we cannot meet the demands of the RJP, we will go to polls with the agenda.
Now, let’s move on to the second round of polls. How many seats will the Nepali Congress win this time?
All of us know that the elections are taking place in Provinces 1,5 and 7. As of now the Nepali Congress is ahead in all provinces. The UML did win 5-7 seats more than Congress in the first phase. But the UML had believed that its ‘pseudo nationalism’ will guarantee a landslide win for the party, that did not happen.
But nothing has drastically changed after the first round of elections when it comes to national politics. So how can you say that the Nepali Congress will win this time?
The Nepali Congress has led from the front when it comes to constitution amendment and the restructuring of the state. We have taken the initiative at many crucial junctures. The UML does not want the successful implementation of the constitution. It wants to create as many hurdles as possible. The people are slowly understanding this.
During the first round of elections, it was seen that the urban electorate did not vote for the Nepali Congress in large numbers. What is your view on this?
Yes, people in urban areas did not support the Nepali Congress much in the first round of elections. But they too have realised now. Take for example, Bharatpur. Most of our supporters did not vote for our coalition. We realised that we made a mistake there. We won’t repeat the same mistake in the second round. In Kathmandu also, we lost because the urban intellectuals did not vote for the Nepali Congress.
The people have realised that they need to make proper use of their vote by choosing the Nepali Congress. The party has also changed its campaigning style and its polices.
Published on June 23rd, Friday, 2017 4:11 PM
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