The Upendra Yadav-led Federal Socialist Forum and Baburam Bhattarai-led Naya Shakti Nepal recently announced their merger to form the Samajwadi Party. All this happened as the Forum was reported to have been in talks with its coalition partner in Province 2, the Rastriya Janata Party, for a potential merger. In this context, Onlinekhabar’s Shrawan Dev recently talked to the RJP’s Upendra Mahato about the merger and its effect on the politics on Madhesh.
Let’s start the interview with a question on the merger between the FSFN and Naya Shakti. What is your take on it?
When we were in talks (with the FSFN), we were talking about forming an alternative force. We were talking about unifying all non-communist, non-Congress forces. But they were not ready to take part in this campaign. They formed a party. They did not work towards forming an alternative force.
The other issue we faced was that they let go of important agenda such as the amendment of the constitution, the establishment of people’s rights, identities, good governance, and prosperity. We were talking about launching a struggle as an opposition, but they joined the government. What I want to say is that they did the opposite of what they were supposed to do. However, the two parties concerned are independent and I do not want to comment more.
We launched an agitation demanding an amendment to the constitution, which went on for six months. Many people were martyred; Forum was also part of the agitation. But when the government, in its policy and programmes, said that all discontent over the new constitution has now been resolved, Upendra ji did not object to the statement. This shows that Upendra ji has let go of his principles.
There was a time when Upendra ji used to talk about re-writing the constitution. Today, he signed a document that says all discontent has been settled. What is this? Upendra ji needs to face the country and the people on this.
But, you were also called to join the party.
Yes, that is true. The meeting was convened to form an alternate force, we were also invited. Leaders from four parties ( RJP, Janamukti Party, Forum and Naya Shakti) were present during the meeting. During the negotiations, we were talking about a process in which the four parties would take the initiative and other parties would be invited to join later. But they did not adhere to the decision. They went on to form a party.
For us, the most important of all things are policies and ideologies–these things need to be agreed upon at the outset. They need to leave the government, lobby for the amendment of the constitution. The country needs an alternative. Any bid to form a new party without addressing these concerns is futile.
We have entered into mergers with six parties. Signing a merger with the seventh is not a big deal. But they should not have backtracked on forming the alternative force.
But the new Samajwadi Party, in its very first meeting, appealed to you to sit for talks to enter into a merger. Will you sign a merger with the Samajwadi Party?
Look, we want to emphasise on policies and principles. Nothing will happen if these things are not addressed.
Do you think that your party and the Samajwadi party will ever agree on policies and policies?
Nepali people want an alternative. We want such an alternative force to lobby for the amendment of the new constitution. We are ready to join if these things are considered. However, we will not join the Samajwadi party under present circumstances.
Forum and the RJP were considered the two main parties in Madhesh. Now that Forum is no longer in existence (and the Samajwadi party has become a ‘national party’) what will the RJP do?
Look, the two big political parties in the country, the Congress and the NCP call themselves as ‘national parties’. But neither of the parties could address the problems of the country. The ‘national party’ cloak does not mean that you turn everything on its head. The people have fought and died, how can someone just gloss over this and say they are forming a national party. The RJP will not abandon its principles in the name of forming a new political force.
You protested, and even withdrew support to the government. But the constitution was not amended. What will you do next?
We carried out an unprecedented agitation. With the support of the people, we organised strikes and blockades for six months by risking our lives. If the government does not listen to the people, the people will rise again. The people are powerful, they can never be defeated.
But your party is in a coalition with the Forum-led government in Province 2. How will the latest developments affect the government?
The Province 2 government is a fruit of the agitation. This government is still in agitation. Forum chose its own partners at the national level, we don’t have anything to say to that. But I believe that the provincial government has the role of strengthening federalism. The Province 2 government is working towards this end.
Published on May 12th, Sunday, 2019 1:26 PM