Coalition partners start talks on sharing seats for elections

The ruling coalition has formed a working group with a mandate to recommend the sharing of seats between the partners by the middle of this month for the next general and provincial elections to be held on November 20.

On Friday, after deciding to contest the elections as part of an alliance, the five ruling coalition parties formed an 11-member task force.

In the coalition led by the Nepalese Congress, the CPN (Maoist Centre), the CPN (Unified Socialist), the Janata Samajbadi Party and the Rastriya Janamorcha are partners.

“The coalition parties have decided to form a working group to distribute the seats among themselves for the upcoming polls,” said Narayan Kaji Shrestha, a senior Maoist Center official. “He will present his recommendations in two weeks.”

The government on Thursday announced general and provincial elections for November 20 (Sunday).

The task force includes Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Gagan Thapa and Gyanendra Bahadur Karki from Congress; Janardan Sharma and Barshaman Pun from the Maoist Centre; Pramesh Hamal and Beduram Bhusal of the United Socialist; Ram Sahay Prasad Yadav and Rakam Chemjong from the Janata Samajbadi party; and Himlal Puri and Ananda Sharma of the Rastriya Janamorcha as members.

Friday’s ruling coalition meeting brought together Poudel, Purna Bahadur Khadka and Gyanendra Bahadur Karki in addition to the Congress Prime Minister; Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Barshaman Pun from the Maoist Centre; Madhav Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal and Pramesh Hamal of the United Socialist; Upendra Yadav and Rakam Chemjong from the Janata Samajbadi party; and Durga Poudel of the Rastriya Janamorcha.

However, sharing seats between the five parties will not be easy for the coalition partners, the party leaders admit. The five parties had fought together in local elections on May 13, but could not agree on the sharing of seats in the 753 local units. They could only make deals for about a third of the local units, saying that in other places there would be “friendly competition”.

The Congress and the Maoist Center benefited from the local polls, with the United Socialist and the Janata Samajbadi complaining that vote transfers were not as they expected, resulting in their poor performance.

On November 20, Nepalese will vote to elect 275 members of the House of Representatives: 165 under the First-in-the-Post (FPTP) electoral system and 110 under the Proportional Representation (PR) system. Simultaneously, 550 members for the seven provincial assemblies will be elected, including 330 by direct vote and 220 by proportional vote.

Congress wants to reserve at least 100 seats, out of the 165 directly elected to the House, while the coalition partners are seeking at least 80 for themselves.

Senior Congress official Ram Chandra Poudel, who is also the coordinator of the high-level political mechanism, said if his party failed to win 100 of the FPTP’s 165 seats, it would be difficult for the coalition to defeat the CPN. -UML.

After emerging as the top party in the local elections, the Nepalese Congress aims to win a majority by keeping the current coalition intact. In 2017, the Maoist Center conducted elections in an alliance with the UML, reducing the Congress to 23 seats in the SMU category.

The UML had become the largest party with a total of 121 seats – 80 in the SMU category and 41 in the PR system. Congress had won 40 seats under the PR system, indicating that their voting shares were nearly equal.

The Maoist Center won 53 seats – 36 in the SMU category and 17 in the PR system. In 2017, the Unified Socialiast did not exist, as it was formed last August by Madhav Nepal after splitting from the UML. Therefore, his voting basis is unclear.

“The coalition decided to form a working group because we have seen

issues of sharing seats in local elections,” said Beduram Bhusal, general secretary of the United Socialist, also a member of the task force. “We will discuss the process, the basis and the modalities so that the seats can be shared between the partners in an equitable manner.”

It’s unclear what Babram Bhattarai, who recently launched his Nepal Samajbadi party after being kicked out of the Janata Samajbadi, will do – whether his party will go to the polls alone or in alliance with the ruling coalition.

Insiders say that if the Maoist Center and United Socialism form a sub-alliance of communist forces, Bhattarai could join them.

“We have not yet given any concrete shape to our new party, so we did not join the coalition meeting today,” said Ganga Narayan Shrestha, a senior Nepali Samajbadi party official. “Once we form our central committee on Saturday, we will discuss other issues, including being part of the ruling coalition.”

Shrestha said her party preferred to be part of the ruling coalition, but since the coalition partners have already formed their own task force, her party will have to think differently.

“We will discuss the issue after the central committee is formed on Saturday,” Shrestha told the Post.

A member of the working group representing the Janata Samajbadi party, Rakam Chemjong, also said that the modality will be developed through discussions within the working group. He said it was obvious his party would demand more than its current strength. At present, the party has 19 MPs of which at least two, Bhattarai and Mahendra Rai Yadav, have decided to join the Nepalese Samajbadi party.

“We will first deliberate on the modality within our party before discussing it within the working group,” said Ram Sahay Yadav, a member of the working group representing the Janata Samajbadi party.

According to ruling coalition party leaders, member parties would be allocated the same constituencies they won in the 2017 elections, and constituencies won by the UML would be shared among the partners. However, Congress leaders said they would claim a majority of the constituencies won by the UML as the party won only 23 seats under the SMU system in 2017.

The main opposition party, the CPN-UML, has tried to break the alliance, but the leaders of the Maoist center say they could only think of forging an electoral alliance with the UML if its president, the KP Sharma Oli apologizes for dissolving parliament twice. Since the ruling coalition is set to pursue the electoral alliance even for the next general election, the party has campaigned broadly and aggressively.

“Our leaders are already on the campaign trail,” said Subas Nembang.

Some senior UML leaders expressed dissatisfaction with Oli’s role, saying he had made no effort to bring the Maoist Center back into their fold.

“It is the responsibility of the party chairman to ensure that the party wins the maximum number of seats in the next elections, but he does not seem interested,” said a party official asking not to be named for fear of reprisals. “We don’t have a formal agenda and the president hasn’t even called a meeting to discuss the party’s ballot prospects.”

The UML has reached out to the Maoist leaders and has already sent the message that it is ready to give 40% of the seats and the post of Prime Minister to Dahal, but the Maoist Center chairman hopes his party will win the second most large number of seats after Congress. .

“If the Maoist Center joins us, Dahal’s premiership will be secured and they will also get a better share compared to the existing alliance,” said Sher Bahadur Tamang, a member of the Standing Committee close to Oli. “Politics is a game of possibilities and the UML has its own strategies.”

Tamang said his party could join all progressive, nationalist and democratic forces. “We have made all our preparations to challenge the polls alone for now,” Tamang told the Post.

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