Rival alliances in for tight race

Biratnagar, November 15

The democratic and leftist alliances are the major contenders in Province 1 for the upcoming parliamentary and provincial elections.

There are a total of 14 districts in the province. Polls will be held on November 26 in seven districts, namely, Sankhuwasabha, Solukhumbu, Khotang, Okhaldhunga, Taplejung, Bhojpur and Panchthar. In the remaining districts, second phase of the polls are scheduled for December 7.

Eighty-four seats, including 28 for the Parliament are up for grab in the province.

Reflecting on the result of the local elections earlier this year, the left alliance of CPN-UML and CPN-MC appears to be ahead of the democratic alliance comprising Nepali Congress and Rastriya Prajatantra Party in the province.

UML had won 69 of 136 local units in the province, while Nepali Congress had achieved victory in 51 local bodies. Similarly, CPN-MC and Nepal Democratic Forum had won 9 and 3 units respectively. Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal and Rastriya Prajatantra Party, on the other hand, had claimed 2 seats each. Alternatively, the UML-CPN-MC alliance seems to be ahead in all but Okhaldhunga district.

In Jhapa, Constituency No 5 has taken the centre stage of election-related gossip given the candidacy of UML chairperson KP Sharma Oli. Congress’ Khagendra Adhikari, who resigned as lecturer to run in the election, is fighting against the UML heavyweight here. While UML had won both Damak municipality and Kamal rural municipality, Rastriya Prajatantra Party had claimed victory in Gaurigunj rural municipality during the local election in the constituency earlier.

NC veteran leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula has thrown in his hat from constituency-3, where he is expected to face a tough challenge from Rastriya Prajatantra Party’s candidate Rajendra Lingden, who also has the backing of the left alliance. Elsewhere, the RPP has tied up with Congress in alliance.

In Constituency No 1, NC candidate Bishwo Prakash Sharma and left alliance’s Ram Karki are taking on each other.

In Sunsari, the left alliance’s Jaskumar Rai is contesting against Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal’s leader Ashok Rai, the candidate from the democratic alliance.

While NC’s Sitaram Mehata and left alliance’s Dammar Subedi are locking horns in Constituency No 2, in Sunsari-3, the candidacy of Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar is seen as the main attraction.

The left alliance’s Bhagawati Chaudhary is all set to challenge the very influential leader of Nepali politics, Gachhadar. It should be noted that Gachhadar had won by a narrow margin against Chaudhary in the second Constituent Assembly election in 2013.

Finance Minister and NC leader Gyanendra Bahadur Karki and the left alliance’s Ramesh Shrestha are competing in Constituency No 4.

In Morang, however, the left alliance is said to be ahead in four out of six constituencies. Constituency No 6 has hogged everyone’s attention here with NC leader Shekhar Koirala and the left alliance’s Lalbabu Pandit (UML) in the fray.

Similarly, while NC’s Amrit Aryal and the left alliance’s Shiva Kumar Mandal are major competitors in Constituency No 5; in Constituency No 4, NC’s Mahesh Acharya is pitted against left alliance’s Amanlal Modi.

NC’s Minendra Rijal is contesting against the left alliance’s Rishikesh Pokharel in Constituency No 2.

Elsewhere in Ilam, the election fever has intensified with UML leaders Jhalanath Khanal and Subhas Nembang preparing to fight in constituencies 1 and 2 respectively.