Rukum West contestants set precedent for campaigning

Musikot (Rukum West), Nov 20

Unlike in other constituencies, the two major parliamentary poll candidates in Rukum West constituency — Gopal Ji Jung Shah of the Nepali Congress and Janardan Sharma of the left alliance — have been campaigning without much fanfare.

“I have not used any poster, microphone or banner. My party cadres don’t even chant slogans. You will not find publicity materials in my support in villages and municipalities,” Sharma told THT.

He added that he did not hold mass meetings or deliver speeches. He said he had been to all the villages in his constituency, showed voters his commitment paper and interacted with them. “Voters ask me questions and I tell them what I will do in five years,” Sharma said.

NC’s Shah has also spent little  on publicity materials for his campaign. He too has been visiting villages and meeting voters but unlike Sharma he has been holding small mass meetings to solicit votes.

According to Chief District Officer Bashi Kumar Acharya, both candidates have been campaigning without violating the election code of conduct. “Political parties have shown tolerance towards their opponents,” CDO Acharya added.

Shah and Sharma are old political rivals in the district but try not to be scornful. This was reflected on the day when they filed their candidacies. “This is the deciding game. You and I have already won once from this district,” Shah had told Sharma on the day he filed his candidacy. Although Sharma has won from the district twice, he responded by saying, “A younger brother does not compete with elder brother. He wins with the blessings of the elder brother.”

Shah had defeated Sharma in 1998 general elections but Sharma avenged that defeated by beating Shah with a margin of 13,000 in the first Constituent Assembly elections held in 2008.  Sharma again defeated Shah in 2013 with a margin of more than 10,000 votes in the second CA elections.

Both Shah and Sharma are considered heavyweight candidates in the Rukum West constituency, which has 84,300 eligible voters. Shah was in power during the Panchayati Raj also, while Sharma emerged as a powerful leftist leader after the country became a republic.