Conflict-era questions plague Bhattarai’s Gorkha-2 campaign

Palungtar, November 19

As the first phase election campaign intensified, Baburam Bhattarai, the common candidate of Nepali Congress and his Naya Shakti Party-Nepal in Gorkha 2, is facing conflict era related questions from his voters.

The Nepali congress cadres who were victimised by the then rebels, asked Battarai what was the rationale behind such violence and told him they were still in suffering. On the other hand, family members of former  Maoist rebels asked Bhattarai why he had left the Maoist movement when the sufferings of families who had lost their family members had not been mitigated.

Tension arose in the debate between Baburam and voters in some places such as Tarkukot, Chitrepokhari, Chhoprak, Fujel, Arughat and Manbu.

NC’s local leader Chandra Prasad Neupane,who was his rival in the first Constituent Assembly election had once publicly said he would not support Bhattarai’s candidacy. When Bhattarai met Neupane and tried to convince him, Neupane replied, ‘’I will use my conscience’’.

The NC and NSP-N leaders accused left alliance cadres for provoking their supporters to put  forth conflict era related questions to Bhattarai. Palugtar NSP-N leader Ashok Devokota told THT that the left alliance candidate Narayan Kaji Shrestha was using the conflict era’s wounds to weaken NC-cadres’ support to Bhattari.

NC leaders and Mayor of Gorkha Municipality Rajan Raj Pande said that the left alliance was trying to confuse NC cadres by raising conflict era issues.

In yesterday’s Palungtar mass meeting too, Bhattarai and NC leaders tried to defend Bhattarai’s involvement in conflict era incidents and tried to convince their supporters not to decide against the electoral alliance. Bhattarai claimed that he was personally not involved and would take moral responsibility for those incidents. ‘’I am ready to be punished, if Truth and Reconciliation Commission finds me a culprit for any conflict era incident,’’ he said.

Dipak Wagle, who is the son of late Suresh Wagle, who was killed by security personnel in conflict time,  said NC as well as Naya Shakti cadres should help to manage conflict era sufferings whether it’s from the state or the rebel side. Senior Congress leaders Ram chandra Paudel and Kamala Panta also echoed Bhattarai. Paudel even urged his cadres not to take political decision on the basis of emotion. Panta said that Bhattarai personally was not responsible for conflict era incidents.

Bhattarai has the credit of being an initiator of development works in Gorkha. His rival Naryan Kaji has been criticised for being less concerned with Gorkha in the past.

Shyam Giri, a local trader in Palungtar, however, said Gorkha people wanted to see both leaders in the House of Representatives. “But unfortunately one of them was bound to be defeated,” he added.