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A vote for amendment

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017
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Photo: RSS

Photo: RSS

If the Province 2 polls were a referendum on the Constitution amendment, early trends show that the UML’s rejection to it was soundly defeated. The message from the trends so far is that opposition party may need to show greater flexibility, but the Tarai-centric parties, too, need to rethink some of their demands vis-à-vis the Madhes.

The picture is not completely clear yet, but it seems no party, probably except the Maoists, would be happy with the final results of the local polls in the eight districts of the eastern Tarai.

Madhes-based parties, which consider the Tarai their homeland, are struggling to be third or fourth positions behind the mainstream parties. If they had won by a landslide, they could have interpreted it as endorsement of their demand of the Constitution amendment.

The RJPN, which comprises six Madhesi parties, has won just 17 seats so far, and is leading in 7. The FSFN, which led the recent Madhes movement with the RJPN, has also won 17, and is leading in 5.

But early trends are even worse for the UML, which is facing off against Madhes-based parties over the Constitution amendment. Having emerged as the first party in the previous two rounds of local elections, the UML had predicted it would repeat  the victory in  Province 2, too.

But the UML is not just lagging behind other parties, but it has also faced humiliating defeats in its own strongholds. In Rautahat, the home district and constituency of top UML leader and ex-PM Madhav Kumar Nepal, it did not win a single seat.

Analysts say that the RJPN-FSFN’s joint performance cannot be seen as proof that they are the true representatives of the Tarai.

“Madhesi-parties did not win as many seats as they needed to assert their authority,” says Birganj-based analyst Indu Shankar Jha. “But if you add up the votes received by the NC and the Maoists, it would be clear that people in the Tarai want an amendment to the Constitution.”

Ahead of the Province 2 polls, the NC-Maoists coalition had tabled the Constitution amendment bill in Parliament, which was thwarted by the UML and the RPP. During their election campaigns, the NC and the Maoists emphasised the fact that they did try to address the grievances of the Madhesi people.

The NC, which views the Tarai as its bastion, had vowed to win 100 of the total 136 constituencies in Province 2. So far, it has won just 32, and is leading in 10 municipalities/village councils. This is not satisfactory for the NC, but it will emerge as the biggest party in Province 2.

The Maoists, whom the UML had written off, have done surprising well, winning 18 seats and leading in 4 seats so far.

“The NC and the Maoists benefitted from their failed efforts to amend the Constitution,” Jha says. “The UML was singled out as a villain not just by the Madhesi parties, but also by the NC-Maoists.”

Jha argues that the seats won by the UML are not because of its stand against the amendment, but because of its organisational strength. “Look at the RPP,” he says. “Parsa was its second stronghold after Kathmandu. But it faced a rout in here because it also stood against the amendment.”

Surendra Labh, a professor in Janakpur, says: “The message of the Province 2 results is clear: people in the Tarai want an amendment to the Constitution.”

Om Astha Rai

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One Response to “A vote for amendment”

  1. Purna Khatri on Says:

    In spite of the inhuman restriction from ruing and madhea centric parties to the UML in order to initiate election campaign in plainlad, it’s the great achievement for UML. The outcomes gained by ruling and Madhes centric parties can not be merely interpreted as the voice on the favour of statute amendment. If the election code of conduct was properly followed and minimum political ethics was shown by ruling and Madesh centric partie, result would be surprisingly different. So such ultimate conclusion of the victory of parties except the opposition might be erroneous.

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