Bhattarai at a crossroads as he tries to create a new party ahead of the imminent elections

With the announcement of the date of general and provincial elections and the formation of a task force for sharing seats, excluding Baburam Bhattarai, the ruling five-party coalition, he organized a rally of his new Nepali party Samajbadi.

The party formed a 189-member central committee, appointing Bhattarai as lead chairman, with Mahendra Rai Yadav as alternate chairman and Ganga Shrestha as co-chairman.

“For the next polls, we should try to forge an alliance with like-minded and ideologically close forces,” Bhattarai said during his Central Committee meeting.

As Bhattarai takes a new turn in his decades-long political career, however, he appears to be at a crossroads.

He registered the Nepal Samajbadi Party, which translates to the Socialist Party of Nepal, on July 29, after being kicked out of the Janata Samajbadi Party by Upendra Yadav. Bhattarai had been Chairman of the JSP Federal Council since 2019.

The former prime minister, seen as the architect of the decade-long Maoist “people’s war”, severed ties with the Maoist party in 2015, days after the constitution was promulgated.

He had formed Naya Shakti in 2016 with the aim of providing an alternative to Nepal’s “mainstream” political parties, but it turned out to be a dud. He was his party’s only candidate to make it to the House of Representatives representing Gorkha-2 constituency, defeating Narayan Kaji Shrestha, a Maoist leader.

After registering the new party, the 68-year-old leader, who holds a doctorate from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told the Post that his quest for socialist strength continued in order to bring about economic and socio-political transformation. in the country. .

But there are many challenges ahead of him. In the past six years since he formed Naya Shakti, many have left Bhattarai, with some of his key members, including those with strong ideological views, undecided whether to continue their journey with him.

Bhattarai asked many leaders, including Dambar Khatiwada, to support him at least until the elections.

One of the leaders who had backed Bhattarai in his attempt to build an alternative political force – Prashaant Singh – has already decided to part ways with him.

Elections are just over 100 days away and Bhattarai has a fledgling party.

As the ruling coalition does not include Bhattarai’s group in the working group formed to decide on the sharing of seats, Nepal Samajbadi must explore other options, which are limited.

“We have not yet discussed Nepal’s Samajbadi Party entering the ruling coalition,” said Shrestha, the official chairman of the Maoist Center, which was defeated by Bhattarai in 2017 with the support of the Nepalese Congress. “You better ask them [Nepal Samajbadi Party].”

The first meeting of the Nepalese Samajbadi Party Central Committee on Saturday made the decision to forge an alliance, stand together and even opt for party unity with like-minded forces.

“Today we have made political decisions to forge an alliance with like-minded forces, but we have not decided which party or parties to partner with,” said Ganga Shrestha, the newly elected co-chairman of the left. “We kept all the doors open. We are going to start discussions with all the forces and make a decision even if our priority is to be part of the ruling coalition.

According to a senior leader close to Bhattarai, party leader Ganga Shrestha had spoken to UML chairman KP Sharma Oli about two weeks ago. and had arranged their entry into the UML but Bhattarai had asked Shrestha to wait.

Bhattarai, according to insiders, has been in contact not only with Oli, but also with leaders of the Loktantrik Samajbadi party and the Maoist Center.

Over the past few months, Bhattarai has also held several talks with Maoist Center Chairman Dahal, at least three times in the presence of Vice Chairman Nanda Bahadur Pun at the latter’s residence.

On Saturday, Durga Sob, Hisila Yami and Bhakta Bahadur Shah were elected vice presidents while Ramesh Yadav was elected general secretary. The party has left the post of President of the Federal Council vacant for the time being.

Political commentators say Bhattarai’s intention to form an alternative force is not bad, but his efforts so far have failed.

“It is undeniable that Bhattarai’s aim to give a new direction to Nepalese politics is driven by good intentions,” said political analyst Tula Narayan Shah. “Since his idea fell through, he gradually alienated himself.”

Shah believes Bhattarai could stay with the ruling alliance if some electoral seats are awarded to his party.

« Upendra [Yadav] seems more concerned about the political future of his son who has been affected due to Congress. So there is a chance that this coalition will not stay in its current form until the elections,” Shah said. “Some seats for Bhattarai’s party will not be difficult as Upendra Yadav could join the CPN-UML.”

Dambar Khatiwada, who was considering parting ways with Bhattarai, said he decided to join the Nepalese Samajbadi Party for four months at Bhattarai’s request.

Khatiwada, however, does not believe the ruling coalition will accept Nepal Samajbadi into its fold.

“And, why would Dahal come to Bhattarai’s rescue by dropping his prospects of becoming Prime Minister?” he said.