RPP Chairman Rajendra Lingden claims in rallies that his party will become the largest political force after the next election even though RPP could not even become a national party after the last election.
Any party must win at least one federal seat through the first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system and secure at least three percent of total votes in the proportional representation (PR) system to become a national party.
Lingden was the only RPP candidate to win through the FPTP system as the pro-monarchist party was wiped out in the last election with the then chairman Kamal Thapa losing from Makwanpur district despite forging an electoral alliance with Nepali Congress (NC).
RPP had secured just 196,082 votes in the PR system which was below the three-percent threshold. RPP (Democratic) led by Pashupati Shumsher Rana had contested the election separately and received 88,377 votes in PR system.
The monarchist parties unified after the dismal electoral performance but RPP has again split after Thapa lost the election for party chairman to Lingden in the last general convention. But most of the leaders and vote-base seem to be with RPP led by Lingden now.
RPP did not fare well even in the recent local election. It fielded candidates in just 3,063 out of the 6,743 wards across the country and got its candidates elected ward chair in just 53 wards despite adopting the ploy of allying with any party depending on local convenience.
RPP candidates secured 365,859 votes in the wards it contested. Those votes were secured in only around half of the total number of wards across the country but the wards where it did not contest obviously would have a far smaller share of votes. And the votes it secured in the wards it contested also would have included votes from other parties secured at wards where it opted for alliance.
Considering that the number of voters has now increased to around 18.10 million, the party will have to at least repeat those votes if not increase the tally to cross the three-percent threshold to become a national party if the turnout in election were above 60 percent as in previous elections. It will also have to win at least one seat in the FPTP system.
The ruling coalition has already decided to forge electoral alliance. RPP may also opt for one but it has yet to decide whether to join the ruling coalition or the main opposition CPN-UML.
Considering that Lingden has been a vehement critic of the ruling coalition in his recent rallies and he had won from Jhapa in the last election with support of UML, it looks likely that it will ally with UML.
RPP Spokesperson Mohan Shrestha does not make as tall claims as Lingden’s but his projection is still bullish for the party.
Pointing that the voters have been looking for an alternative force in recent times, Shrestha states that RPP is the only reliable alternative force and it will also attract young voters this time. “We will definitely become a national party. We will secure seats in the range other big parties will secure,” he claims.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We will have to wait until the votes are cast on November 20 to find out whether the electorate concurs.