JSP-UML electoral alliance shows that politics makes the strangest bedfellows

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Despite their diametrically opposed positions on the 2006 Citizenship Amendment Bill, the CPN-UML and the Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) forged an alliance for the federal and provincial elections.

When President Bidya Devi Bhandari snubbed her constitutional duty last month by refusing to authenticate the Amendment Bill which had been approved by both Houses of Parliament, the JSP was a partner in the five-party ruling coalition. and had criticized the president’s decision as a flagrant violation. of the constitution. But the UML supported the president’s decision.

But last week, the JSP took an abrupt turn and chose to forge an electoral alliance with the UML. Analysts say the JSP entered into an alliance with the UML purely for electoral advantage, but as the party appears to have given up on its key political demand, the amendment of the constitution, it may not be able to reap the benefits. expected benefits.

However, JSP leaders stress that they have not given up on their demand to amend the constitution. We simply agreed to have a harmonious electoral partnership with the UML while keeping our differences intact, the leaders said.

“We still have our ideological differences but we have agreed to forge a partnership to improve our electoral prospects,” JSP spokesman Manish Kumar Suman told the Post.

Cooperation with the UML, according to Suman, is limited to the duration of the election and will only continue if the two parties reach a point of convergence after the elections.

According to the agreement reached between the two parties, the UML supports the JSP in 17 seats in the lower house while the JSP supports the UML candidates in 35 seats.

The JSP left the Congress-led alliance on October 7, expressing dissatisfaction with the number of seats on offer and contacted the UML just in time for the nomination of candidates. The ruling alliance had offered the JSP 16 seats in the lower house against its demand for at least 20 seats.

While some observers say the UML’s stance on the citizenship bill could cost the party votes in Madhesh, others argue that agenda-based politics has become secondary in Nepal.

“I see little chance of the Citizenship Bill issue being pushed as an election platform. Therefore, JSP’s cooperation with UML in the elections will not have a significant difference in the election results,” political analyst CK Lal told the Post. “Madhesh issue is about to disappear. As election results will be determined by the weight of individual candidates, the differences between the two parties on citizenship will not matter much.

He is also of the view that the 16-point agreement reached by the four parties – Congress Nepal, UML, UCPN-Maoist and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Democratic – ahead of the promulgation of the constitution in 2015 has ended political based on the agenda and has given rise to opportunistic tendencies.

The citizenship bill is not the first instance where the JSP has had a disagreement with the UML. On December 24, 2019, Upendra Yadav had left the KP Oli cabinet following differences over the modification of the constitution.

In his resignation, Yadav, then deputy prime minister and justice minister, said he decided to step down after the government rejected his proposal to amend the charter in favor of Madheshis.

Madhesi leaders often accuse mainstream parties of ignoring Madhesh-related issues. However, Madheshi parties themselves are often accused of political malpractice and rank opportunism.

Madheshi parties have no choice but to forge electoral partnerships with larger parties, as the former have lost considerable political support, says political commentator Chandra Kishore.

“When they were in government, the Madheshi parties were unable to address the pressing problems of Madhesh and as a result their support declined. And now electoral partnerships have become a constraint for them,” said he told the Post.

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