Poll fever grips bardiya : NC, UML, Maoists working hard to ensure win

Gulariya, March 13:

With Constituent Assembly elections barely a month away, three major parties — the Nepali

Congress, CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist — are campaigning hard in four constituencies of Bardiya district.

Leaders and cadres of the NC, UML and the CPN-Maoist are going around knocking on doors, buttonholing voters and urging them to vote for them. The acrimony among the main contenders is also increasing, with charges and counter-charges flying thick and fast. Mainly, it is the UML that is peeved with the Maoists.

While the Maoists have been flaunting the entry of “UML” cadres into their party as a

triumph of sorts, the UML and NC are accusing the Maoists of threatening voters with

dire consequences if they do not vote for them.

Member of the interim parliament and Bardiya constituency no.1 Maoist candidate Sarla Regmi said, “There is a rush to join the CPN-Maoist.” UML district leaders scoffed at Regmi’s claim, saying, “The Maoists are parading their own cadres as UML cadres and making a show of admitting them as members of their party,” said UML election management committee coordinator Hari Gyawali.

On the hoof, the Maoists seem ahead in campaigning not only in the urban pockets but also in rural areas. However, other parties have a bone to pick with the Maoists. They claim the Maoists are trying to scare voters into submission. Along with UML leaders, NC candidate for constituency no. 2 Sanjay Gautam said, “Maoists are exerting psychological pressure on voters.”

Locals buttressed Gautam’s allegation, saying that the Maoists were threatening to return to the jungle and resume the people’s war if they lost. Many voters said they felt intimidated by the Maoists’ nocturnal vote-seeking brigades and torch-light rallies. They said the Maoists have been telling them every vote cast would be recorded and that those voting anti-Maoist would face the music.

Coordinator of the Civil Society Network Govind Pandey said the Maoists were resorting to electoral arm-twisting and psychological pressure tactics. “They are going around saying they will rule if they win and that they will resume the rebellion if they lose. Creating terror among the voters is not right.”

In the game of one-upmanship, the Maoists are harping on the issue of those who went missing during the conflict period while the NC is beating the displaced-people’s rehabilitation drum. Every party in the fray here has promised to provide land to the freed Kamaiyas.

In the four constituencies, there are 61 candidates, including four independents, in the poll fray. Bardiya has an electorate of 2,74,179. In the last election, the NC had swept the stakes in three constituencies. This nonce, it has fielded a candidate in only one constituency. It is shaping up to be a triangular contest among NC, UML and

the Maoists. Last-time NC

winner Mangal Singh Tharu, who is now in the fray as an

MJF candidate in constituency no. 2. Paradoxically, the Maoists seem to be having a large say in Rajapur that has a Tharu majority population.