Thawang voters’ dilemma: To vote or not to vote

Thawang (Rolpa), November 17

Voters of Thawang area, a communist stronghold in Rolpa district, are on the horns of dilemma. They are undecided whether to vote or not to vote when the district goes to polls on November 26.

Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal and Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led CPN-Maoist Centre have intensified their campaigns in Thawang Rural Municipality’s Ward Nos 1 and 2,  with the CPN warning voters against taking part in elections and the CPN-MC appealing to them to participate.

There are 3,000 voters in the two wards of Thawang Rural Municipality, which had boycotted the 2013 Constituent Assembly elections. During the 1997 local polls, only four votes were cast in the two wards.

CPN cadres have painted the walls of houses across the road to Thawang stating that it is a prohibited zone for poll campaigners.  Local CPN leader Amrit Gharti said his party was using microphones and letters to urge people to boycott elections. He said his party viewed elections as anti-people and anti-national, and his party cadres were visiting every household to tell them to boycott the polls.

The CPN-MC, on the other hand, will begin its door-to-door poll campaign on Sunday and locals fear that could lead to clashes between CPN and CPN-MC cadres.

The chairs of the two wards in Thawang were split between the NCP and the CPN-MC in the local polls held earlier this year. CPN leader Harka Bahadur Buda, who contested as independent candidate, was elected Chair of Thawang Rural Municipality’s Ward No 1, while CPN-MC leader Basant Roka was elected as the chair of Ward No 2.

CPN-MC’s  Girish Pun, who lost the local level election to Buda, told THT that the CPN had been warning voters that class struggle would start after elections and if they participated in elections, they could be targeted.

Local residents said their main concern was that the two factions should not clash. “I’ll vote if I am allowed to vote,” Chain Pun, a local resident, told THT. Old communist leader and former lawmaker Burman Buddha said he was for unity among the communist forces. “The country can achieve goals of development, stability and prosperity only if all communist forces are united,” he said. “If people vote, that will be good but I am not telling any voter to vote or not to vote.”

Inspector of Thawang Area Police Bodhraj Regmi said 161 security personnel were deployed in the area  -- 51 from Armed Police Force, 25 from Nepal Police, 61 from Nepali Army and 24 from temporary police. “We have been telling the voters to vote without any fear,” he said.

Other than CPN and CPN-MC, no other party has visible presence in Thawang area. This scribe  saw only one  Nepali Congress flag hoisted atop a house in the entire area.