CPN-UML is trying to attract aggrieved leaders from other parties in Madhes Province.
UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli reached Gaur of Rautahat district on Monday to welcome Ajay Gupta of Loktantirk Samajwadi Party (LSP) into the main opposition party.
Gupta had been elected Gaur mayor in the local election five years back from the then Rastriya Janata Party (RJP) and had lost to Shambhu Sah of CPN (Unified Socialist) in the recent election for mayor of Gaur.
He had lost to the then UML candidate Madhav Kumar Nepal by mere 300 votes in the Second Constituent Assembly Election in 2013. Oli intends to field Gupta as UML candidate against Nepal, who has now formed Unified Socialist, in the upcoming federal election.
UML is continuing the strategy of attracting leaders from other parties that it tried before the local election even in the provincial and federal elections.
It had welcomed Bijay Sarawagi, who was elected mayor from the then Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (now Janata Samajwadi Party) five years back, and fielded him as its mayoral candidate in the recent election. But Sarawagi lost to the common coalition candidate from JSP Rajesh Man Singh.
UML had fielded newcomers not just as mayoral candidates but even in the wards. It had fielded newcomers as candidates for ward chair in 20 of the 32 wards in Birgunj.
The strategy paid dividends with the party winning chiefs in 30 local bodies in the Madhesh province improving on the 18 achieved five years back.
It is trying to attract even lawmakers from JSP and LSP now after bringing in Gupta. Many aggrieved leaders are getting close to UML LSP trying to join the ruling coalition keeping the option of getting ticket from UML open if they don’t get picked as the common coalition candidate.
“I am for alliance with UML even now. We will benefit if we ally with UML. Let’s see how things unfold until the election,” LSP leader Bimal Srivastav told Setopati. “What to do if the party takes some decision will be decided then. But I am very close to UML.”
Srivastav was elected House of Representatives (HoR) member from the then Federal Socialist Forum five years back and he is now in LSP after split in JSP formed after unification of the then Federal Socialist Forum with RJP.
Chief Whip of LSP Uma Shankar Argariya is also holding discussion with UML. UML leaders claim JSP leader Raj Kishor Yadav is also holding discussion with the main opposition party. Yadav had not attended any factional gathering during the latest split in JSP. He told Setopati that he is still in JSP and is not holding discussion to join any other party.
JSP lawmaker Amrtita Agrahari, who has not attended JSP meetings recently, is also negotiating with UML. UML is also courting Renu Yadav who refused to become executive member of JSP.
“We cannot take any individual name now. But we are holding discussions. We are holding discussions not just with Madhes-based parties but even national parties. Results will soon arrive,” UML leader Mahesh Basnet told Setopati.
Sources claim that many JSP leaders, who were in the Baburam Bhattarai faction at the height of Bhattarai’s differences with Chairman Upendra Yadav but did not quit the party along with Bhattarai, are holding discussions in a way to contest the upcoming election with sun as election symbol.
Oli had tried to woo Madhes-based parties even when he led the government as chairman of the then CPN which had almost two-third majority in the House. JSP was formed overnight following unification of Upendra Yadav’s Federal Socialist Forum with RJP after Oli brought an ordinance to make splitting of parties easier to engineer a split in the Yadav-led party.
He had again tried to split JSP bringing leaders like Mahantha Thakur and Rajendra Mahato—who have now formed LSP—in his camp after dissolving the House for the second time.
Yadav got back the reins of JSP only after Oli’s plans failed following restoration of the House by the Supreme Court.
LSP, however, is now trying to join the ruling coalition. There will be problems in sharing of seats in Madhes if LSP joins the coalition. UML is trying to capitalize on that and intends to attract the aggrieved leaders denied ticket by the coalition.
JSP and Federal Socialist Forum, which had contested the last federal election separately, together had won 19 out of 32 HoR seats in the province despite the alliance of UML with CPN (Maoist Center) with promise of post-election unification.