Former prime minister Bhattarai registers new party

Former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai has registered a new party.

Bhattari, a former Maoist leader who was recently expelled from the Janata Samajbadi Party, registered Nepal Samajbadi Party with the Election Commission on Thursday.

“Today we registered a new party at the Election Commission and the election symbol of our party is eye,” Bhattarai told the Post. “Earlier I fought for the promulgation of the new constitution through the Constituent Assembly but now the political objective is to create a new political and governance system through socialism for political, economic and social transformation.”

After severing ties with the Maoist party in 2015, days after the promulgation of the constitution, Bhattarai had formed Naya Shakti, arguing that the country needed a new force to bring about socioeconomic transformation.

The party had got “eye” as its election symbol, and he was elected from Gorkha-2 to the House of Representatives, becoming the sole leader of the party in Parliament.

His Naya Shakti, however, failed to strike a chord even with those who were also clamouring that a new political force is needed in the country.

In May 2019, he merged his party with the then Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum led by Upendra Yadav to form Sanghiya Samajbadi Party, which in 2020 merged with the Rastriya Janata Party to form the Janata Samajbadi Party.

A section of the Janata Samajbadi led by Mahantha Thakur left in August last year to form Loktantrik Samajbadi Party. Relations between Yadav and Bhattarai, who were leading the Janata Samajbadi as central chair and federal council chair, respectively, had grown frosty lately. The two leaders had decided to part ways amicably so as to avoid mud-slinging at each other.

When Bhattarai and Yadav decided to merge their parties three years ago, political analysts had called it “a marriage of convenience,” whose longevity was in question from the very first day.

Bhattarai, who has for quite some time been making a pitch for creating a “socialist centre”, had held a series of talks with CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, recently. The idea, however, has yet to gain momentum.

The newly-registered Nepal Samajbadi is Bhattarai’s fifth party.

Bhattarai, who began his political career from the CPN (Masal), later joined the CPN (Unity Centre), which later turned into the CPN (Maoist). After Naya Shakti and Janata Samajbadi, he has now formed Nepal Samajbadi Party, which translates into “Nepal Socialist Party”.

The organisational shape of the party is yet to be finalised.

“I urge all not to count the number of parties I have formed or been involved in,” said Bhattarai. “All those past efforts had certain objectives and my quest for a political force that can bring about political, economic and social transformation in the country has not ended yet.”

Asked if he has abandoned the idea of forming the socialist centre with like-minded forces such as the Maoist Centre and the CPN (Unified Socialist), Bhattarai said efforts will continue to that effect.

Dahal, Bhattarai, Unified Socialist Centre leaders Madhav Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal, and former UML leader Bamdev Gautam, who is on a campaign to bring leftist forces under one umbrella, had held some meetings recently to explore the socialist centre idea.

Dahal, Nepal and Khanal instead are currently focused on forming a front of left forces that are in the ruling coalition.

The two communist forces, as well as Yadav’s Janata Samajbadi and Rastriya Janamorcha, are partners in the ruling coalition led by the Nepali Congress.

Whether the Janata Samajbadi will be part of the left front that the Maoist Centre and the Unified Socialist are seeking to form is not clear yet. Dahal and Nepal, however, are eyeing some kind of front of communist forces minus the CPN-UML.

“An alliance of leftist forces, which is yet to get a particular shape, will be like a front of those who are in the present ruling coalition,” said Bhattarai. “Our new party could be part of that alliance or socialist centre, if it is created, or the front. Our objective is to establish the socialist political system for socioeconomic transformation in the country.”

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