Incumbent faces newcomer in interesting poll battle

Kathmandu, November 13

Lalitpur Constituency No 1 is witnessing one of the most interesting electoral battles in the upcoming parliamentary elections slated for December 7.

There are reasons for this: Promising youth leader of the Nepali Congress Udaya Shumsher JB Rana is facing newcomer Nawaraj Silwal who is a common candidate of the left alliance forged by the CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre.

A resident of Lalitpur, Rana is a minister of state for finance and a member of the Constituent Assembly-turned-Parliament. He was elected from Lalitpur-1 in the 2013 Constituent Assembly elections. He is also the former president of the NC’s youth organisation Nepal Tarun Dal. Rana had also contested the CA elections in 2008, but lost.

On the other hand, Nawaraj Silwal — who is also a local resident — is a former deputy inspector general of police. He recently entered politics, joining the CPN-UML after tendering his resignation from his DIG post in September.

While Rana is a known face in the constituency who has fought several elections from there, Silwal, despite being a newcomer, is posing a serious challenge given the fact that he is a local resident and is backed by the UML and the CPN-MC, say voters.

“Had Silwal not been a local, Rana would have a cakewalk, for sure. But it’s not the case. Also, let’s not undermine the vote base of the two communist parties — the UML and the CPN-MC,” said Dinesh KC, 52, a former army man and a permanent resident of Ward No 12, Godavari Municipality. “I expect a neck-and-neck race between the two.”

Ranjana Thapa of Badikhel, Godavari-3, echoed KC. Thapa, 28, said besides being a Lalitpur local and a common candidate of the left alliance, Silwal does not have much to offer. “But yes, there’s no doubt he is a formidable candidate and will give stiff competition to the tried-and-tested Rana,” she said, sharing some of the efforts made by Rana for development of the constituency such as the Lalit Ghumti road project.

Others too praised Rana for his contribution to the area. Ram Bahadur Tamang, 54, of Triveni, Chapakharka, remembered how Rana’s efforts helped address the water crisis in his village. Rana, who is an employee of the Godavari Botanical Garden, also did not hesitate to share efforts made by other parties for the development of his village. “The UML has widened roads, while the CPN-MC helped open a school,” he said. “But water supply needs to be repaired, so I would like to request the winner to do it at the earliest.”

Tamang, however, was not sure about the candidate representing the left alliance. “I have heard rumours about some policeman contesting the elections, but I am yet to confirm it. He might come to me to seek votes, let’s see,” he said.

The voters, however, were unequivocal that the winner, whosoever it may be, should work for the people and development of the constituency. Their one common expectation was that the winner should not forget voters once elected, and should work to ensure that the youths do not leave the country for lack of opportunities.

One among three senior citizens, all in their late 70s, who were talking elections at a tea stall at Taukhel, was rather frustrated with the government’s inability to rehabilitate survivors of the 2015 Gorkha earthquakes even three years after the tremors struck.

“Frankly, we do not have any expectation from these leaders,” he said, requesting anonymity ‘fearing a possible threat’.

The second man among the three added: “Leaders just work for themselves, not for us. We have been casting our votes for the past several decades, and nothing has happened so far. I don’t expect anything to happen this time too, so I doubt if I will vote this time around,” he said, adding that they wanted nothing from the leaders, but support in difficult times.