It is now clear that 12 political parties would be represented in the federal parliament under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) election system and seven under the proportional representation electoral system. With the release of the election results by the Election Commission, the parties have begun assessing the number of seats won by them and also started intensive talks and dialogue for the formation of a government.
The Janamat Party led by Chandra Kanta (CK) Raut is entering the federal parliament in the capacity of a national party. As per the Constitution, a political party qualifies to be recognised as a national party on two conditions: (a) the party has to have at least one member elected to the House of Representatives under the First-Past-The-Post system, and (b) the party should secure at least three percent of the votes under the Proportional Representational system. Parties meeting only one of the two constitutional clauses cannot be recognised as a national party.
Raut had been practicing "underground politics" voicing for the Madhesh issues in the past. The Janamat Party has emerged as a rising alternative political force in the Madhes Province. It won one seat – Raut himself – in the federal parliament under the FPTP system and secured over 394 thousand votes under the proportional representation system. The Janamat Party fought the election with a 'loudspeaker' as its election symbol.
Janamat Party's Chair Raut is entering the parliament by defeating Upendra Yadav, the chairperson of Janata Samajbadi Party, who was established as the leader of the Madhes movement in the election. Born in Mahadeva village in Saptari district, Raut is an engineer by profession. He said the people had trusted the Janamat Party and, through the election, endorsed the issues related to health, education, good governance and farmers, which they had been raising.
"The people have faith in the issues we have raised and approved of them. Our parliament seat alone would be decisive in forging a majority in the parliament," he said. Narayan Prasad Neupane and CB Adhikari interviewed the Janamat Party chairperson in the context of the meetings among the parties and leaders and the magic number of 138 required for the government formation and other contemporary topics. Excerpts:
RSS: How do you take the present election?
Raut: The election is a democratic process in itself. I am much happy to take part in it and win public support. This is the formal means for acquiring public support. Whether or not the people have approved our agendas has been tested through this. I am delighted that the people have expressed their opinion strongly by trusting us.
RSS: The time when you started your political career and the present situation are not the same. How do you assess it?
Raut: In the past, we were not in mainstream politics. We had no ground to test our presence in the political sphere. We would organise public events but had no indicator to measure the scale of public support. We would frequently face interventions from the government. Now we are in mainstream politics and have found a ground to exercise politics openly. We reached the people with the party agenda and got endorsed by them. We are heading to a place where we can get our agenda endorsed.
RSS: How do you feel about joining mainstream politics?
Raut: We are in open politics and entrusted with establishing deeper ties with the people and realise their issues more closely. This is one of the major differences we feel at the moment. We have exercised the rights granted by the State and the Constitution.
RSS: What is the people’s understanding of your party and what are their expectations?
Raut: We have realised that people are positive about our agenda, which are not merely political as brought by political parties. We have raised the issues of education, health and employment, which were not the priorities of other political parties. In addition, corruption prevention, promotion of good governance and the issues of farmers were our election agenda and people have owned it, expressing high hope on the Janamat Party.
RSS: Was your election campaign successful?
Raut: The elections concluded largely peacefully as compared to the past elections. As evaluated by the election observers, it was not as extravagant as used to be in the past: was quiet and credible and wasessive in terms of the imimplementingode of conduct. I perceive people’s vote for the party as a mandate for change. We will not let them down.
RSS: Now, your party is mandated to play its role in the Legislature. The people expect delivery in health, education, irrigation and so on. How do you look forward to balancing it?
Raut: First of all, we should be clear that the function of the parliament does not limit to the formulation of laws. It is also the place for in-depth discussions on government policies and programmes, including the budget. We have to determine the priorities based on the needs of the people. This is the place for endorsing government policies and programmes. Still, many school children are out of school; farmers are demanding seeds and fertiliser. We will utilise this opportunity to raise voices for a national literacy campaign for children and a smooth supply of fertiliser to the farmers. The Parliament is the first place for recognizing the voices of the people’s representatives.
RSS: How do you analyze election results, coalition government and heightened insecurity triggered by prospects of instability? What is the role of your party in forming the next government?
Raut: We did see a two-thirds majority government in the past. It is not that a two-thirds government will be stable. Neither is it that the majority government brings political stability. No party has acquired a majority. It has a positive side; this has barred a particular party from being egoistic. This has given a message that all should move ahead together by accommodating the voices and issues of all. People have stressed the need for coordination and cooperation. The main point is intention. A political party and a leader with good intentions can go for longer terms.
Seats won by the Janamat Party have been decisive at present. Our seats play a decisive role in having a majority in the parliament to form a government. There is a situation where a government in provinces cannot form without the party's support. The situation of our party being absent from the government is that of a deadlock. Our responsibility is to give a way out. We will do it. We will support those who pledge to implement our concerns, including education, health and employment opportunities.
RSS: What is your message to political parties and voters in the present situation?
Raut: What I tell other political parties is that I would like to thank them for whatever took place and what they did in the past. They should embrace the message people have given through the polls for positive changes. Otherwise, people's revolt and disgust towards political parties will grow increasingly. Now is the time for correction. We all must appreciate people's mandate. We must move ahead, focusing on service delivery and people's demands and issues. We must commit to their service by appreciating their mandate. On their part, people should be continuously cautious and make them alert.
RSS: What will be your first agenda upon entering the parliament and the government?
Raut: Our focus will be on service delivery upon entering the parliament and the government. At present, employment problems are a major problem. Thousands of youths are forced to go abroad for job opportunities. Employment opportunities should be created within the country itself. Increasing the literacy rate, making health services accessible and quality, maintaining good governance, controlling corruption and ending dilly-dallying in service deliveries are among our prime priorities. Our initiatives will be to implement them.
RSS: You have risen as an alternative force in the Madhes. What is your plan for cooperation with other forces in the Madhes?
Raut: There may be cooperation with anyone. People's mandate to us alone is not decisive. Cooperation with anyone is needed to form a government. So, there will always be possibilities for cooperation with anyone. The main issue is that our demands and issues should be taken positively. We have been here not just to become ministers and become a part of the government. A conducive environment should be created for us to work for people. Even now, people should not be put in illusion. A way out must be sought.