KATHMANDU: Five ruling partners have intensified political meetings of late. Elections to the House of Representatives and State Assembly have been scheduled for November 20.
However, the ruling partners have failed to decide the distribution of seats so far. Nepali Congress (NC) has claimed 100 seats, CPN-Maoist Center 60, and the United Socialist 40. Other fringe parties, too, have put forth their positions.
In this regard, Khabarhub’s Dhiraj Basnet approached Unified Socialist Spokesperson Jagannath Khatiwada to talk about the seat allocation in the ruling coalition and their plans for the forthcoming federal and provincial elections. Excerpts:
Where is the issue of seat distribution in the ruling coalition stuck?
Seat allocation among the coalition partners is the most complicated issue. It takes a long time. And it takes more time to select constituencies.
We said that if we go to one method or form a basis for allocation, seat distribution will be easier. Some of the parties said they merely wanted more seats than others for they had bagged more seats in the previous elections.
We also made a proposal to consider the numbers obtained by us adding the direct and proportional votes in the parliament and allocating the constituency accordingly.
After that, we proposed to divide the remaining number proportionally. The Maoist Center consented; however, NC has been saying it needs more.
Does it mean that the NC is looking for more than it deserves?
We do not compare the status of others. The election date is approaching. The status of that is to be determined by the people.
It will be determined by the strength of the organization. A good understanding between the leaders and the parties is needed to ensure cooperation and strengthen the coalition.
How can the constituencies under dispute or multiple claims be settled?
It has been our practice since time immemorial to settle matters only after coming at the last moment. First of all, it is a Nepali custom to prey on the weak as much as possible. So this is possible only if all the parties are united. No matter how complicated it is, everyone moves forward by facing it.
How many seats is the unified socialist ready to agree on this time?
We (Unified Socialist Party) have asked for 40 seats but NC has asked for 100. The Maoist center has also asked for about 70. We have also asked to settle it on the basis of the direct and proportional number of seats.
NC has proposed to base the seat allocation on the positions secured in 2013. Why do you not agree to it?
That is a long time ago. We have to look at the current situation. If we add the votes that the NC got directly, then it is in total 23 seats. It might not agree on that number. Therefore, it is NC that has been obstructing the process.
In your opinion how many seats NC should claim to agree on the coalition’s seat allocation? What will happen to the coalition if NC stuck to its claim?
NC had won 23 seats directly and the number of NC lawmakers was 63, including the proportional representation members.
Now, taking the number of 63 as the main basis and increasing it slightly by adding a few more seats formerly won by CPN-UML it can be taken up to 70, but the claim for 100 seats is unrealistic.
No party is ready to let others get the constituency formerly won by it.
Will the coalition break if the parties stick to their claims?
The five-party coalition will not break before the elections. The coalition parties are trying to get more seats in their favor. Sometimes it goes like this. The coalition is the need of the time. The parties will work out a solution.
Earlier, there was a discussion between Maoist Center and your party about leftist unity, are you going to do this right after the election?
Now the unity is for the election. Now we go with the coalition. The objective of making a common election manifesto is to pave way for finding a substantive basis for unity in the future.
The Unified Socialist seems lost in its agenda and the party’s future. Is it planning to merge the party with Maoist Center for the same reason?
Unified Socialist is guided by its ideology and has a clear set agenda. We formed the alliance based on the optimum efforts that can be made to materialize our agenda and serve the people best.
Facing two elections in a year is challenging for a newly formed party; yet, we will go ahead. Our attempt to form a Leftist alliance is to mainstream the communist forces and unite like-minded parties.
Are you hinting that everyone can expect unity between the Unified Socialist and Maoist Center after the federal and provincial elections?
We are trying to unite all communist forces. UML will also realize it and join in our campaign gradually.
Is there the possibility of uniting with Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and Bamdev Gautam?
I cannot say much on this issue. Leader Bamdev Gautam is close to us but there is no talk of unity with Dr. Bhattarai.
How are you going forward with the election preparations?
First, the process of seeking votes for proportional constituencies and direct votes will begin based on the agreement made in the coalition. So we have prepared internally. Comrades are working on strengthening the organization and taking the election campaign ahead. They have already been marching with our election symbol, the pen.
You have made preparations to contest from Udaypur-2, however, there is a poor presence of the Unified Socialist party. What will you do if you do not get the constituency?
I don’t see that possibility. Maoist Center candidate won the constituency with our support, so, they should help us this time. The leadership will keep it in their mind while making decisions.