Parties jostle for power in Madhesh Province

Kiran Poudel 15 May 2024
Parties jostle for power in Madhesh Province Leaders of UML, Maoist Center, Janamat and LSP shake hands after a recent discussion on government formation .

KATHMANDU: The split of Janata Samajwadi Party, Nepal (JSP Nepal) has plunged the Madhesh Province Government into crisis. The CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) have already withdrawn their support to Chief Minister Saroj Kumar Yadav. As a result, the Madhesh government has fallen into a minority.

Madhesh Chief Minister Yadav has begun discussions with other parties in the province assembly to save his government. He has been claiming that the government will not fall immediately.

UML and Maoist leaders, however, are convinced that the government will fall. As a result, they have begun discussions to form a new government in the province. Ram Kumar Lekhi Tharu, a central committee member of the UML, said there is no possibility of the JSP Nepal’s government continuing in the province. “The power equation has already progressed towards forming a new government,” he added.

The Chief Minister will have to undergo a floor test within a month of the withdrawal of support by his coalition partners. If he can win support of other parties within this period, his government may survive. Many say the formation of a new government in the province will be based on the power-sharing deal made at the federal level.

UML and Maoist Center leaders are holding discussions with the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP) and Janmat Party to form a new government. However, a consensus is eluding these four parties as each of them is staking a claim for the position of Chief Minister.

LSP General Secretary Manish Mishra said there has been no agreement about forming a new government yet.

How can the new government be formed?
The CPN-UML is the largest party in the 107-member province assembly with 25 seats (including the Speaker). The Nepali Congress (NC) is second with 22 seats, while the JSP Nepal has 19 seats. LSP and Maoist Center have nine members each, while CPN (Unified Socialist) has seven and three parties have one seat each. There is also an independent member in the province assembly.

The support of the NC will not be sufficient for Chief Minister Yadav. It needs the support of other parties as well. Further, there is a risk of some province assembly members of the JSP Nepal showing allegiance to the JSP which split from the party. JSP sources say a few province assembly members of the JSP Nepal will join them soon.

The LSP could join the UML-Maoist alliance if it is given some responsibility in the federal government. Following the ouster of the Upendra Yadav-led JSP Nepal, the Janmat Party could also join the UML and Maoist Center in the federal government. If that happens, the new government that the UML and Maoist Center are preparing to form in Madhesh will easily get the required majority.

The NC, on the other hand, can join hands with the JSP Nepal to form a government under its leadership. However, the support of JSP Nepal alone won’t be sufficient to form a government. It will also have to win the support of the LSP, Janamat and the fringe parties, as well.

Support of small parties crucial
Small parties have become kingmakers in Madhesh. Both the UML-Maoist Center and NC-JSP Nepal alliances need the support of small parties to secure a majority. Because of this, smaller parties have started making their claims for the position of Chief Minister.

Janmat Nepal’s Spokesperson Sharad Singh Yadav said his party would be open to joining any alliance that offers the Chief Minister’s post to the party. LSP’s Mishra also said they are staking their claims for the Chief Minister’s post during discussions with other parties.

JSP Nepal Chairperson Upendra Yadav met the LSP Chairperson Mahantha Thakur even before he left the federal government to solicit the latter’s support in Madhesh. Thakur told Yadav that he would be able to discuss the issue after the political picture in the province becomes clearer.

But the LSP is unlikely to join hands with the JSP Nepal given the past dispute between leaders of the two parties. The LSP was formed by JSP Nepal leaders who were dissatisfied with JSP Nepal’s Yadav’s working style.

Federal coalition holds the key
Who will form the government in Madhesh depends on which Madhesh-based parties will join the federal government. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is making efforts to bring back the Nagarik Unmukti Party, LSP and Janmat Party to his government. If these parties join Dahal’s government, the coalition of the center will form the government in Madhesh.

If that doesn’t happen, the NC-JSP Nepal could form the government by forming an alliance with other parties except the UML and Maoist Center.

The CPN (Unified Socialist), which is undecided about continuing in the ruling alliance at the center, could support the NC-JSP Nepal alliance in Madhesh if it decides to quit the federal government.


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