UML caught in 2 minds over Oli’s Tarai poll drive

- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu
The party secretariat, however, says the preparations were under way to hold mass events in the region

Sep 14, 2017-At a time when top leaders of major political parties, including Prime Minister and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, have focused their attention in Province 2 elections, CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli has stayed away from poll campaigns in the southern plains. 

Although there is no official word from the UML, informed sources say the move has been cautiously taken to avoid negative promotion for the party in the region as Oli does not share best camaraderie with the political establishment of the southern plains. The UML chairman was supposed to address gatherings in each of the eight districts.

The UML Secretariat, however, said the preparations were under way to hold mass events in the region.

UML General Secretary Ishwor Pokhrel, who has also taken the command of party’s election campaign in Province 2, said earlier this month that the party would launch a campaign in Birjung and carry it on to Saptari once the process of nomination concludes.  

As per the election schedule published by the Election Commission, zero hour will be implemented 48 hours prior to the election day on September 18. This means the parties can hold campaigns and promote their agendas until midnight on Friday, leaving chances of Oli touring the region slim. However, most of the top UML leaders, including Madhav Kumar Nepal, Bishnu Poudel, Pradeep Gyawali, Ghanashyam Bhusal, Gokarna Bista and Bhim Acharya, have been involved in election campaigns in Province 2. 

The party is also believed to be trying to avoid big events in the region following clashes between UML and Madhesi Morcha cadres during the main opposition’s ‘Mechi-Mahakali Campaign’ in March. That resulted in the death of four people, consequently affecting the party’s image. Following the incident, UML decided to put off the scheduled events in Province 2.  

UML Spokesperson Yogesh Bhattarai, however, told the Post that the party secretariat was on the verge of finalising Oli’s programmes. “Chairman Oli is likely to address a couple of mass campaigns on Friday,” Bhattarai said, adding that the party has been selective on Oli’s tour following the party’s decision to engage with the people through door-to-door campaign and small gatherings rather than indulging in mass events. “We don’t have much time. If we are to take the chairman to mass events, we will have to centralise all our forces in the event.” 

According to Bhattarai, Oli is likely to address events at Jitpur Simara in Bara district and Bardibas in Mahottari district. 

Meanwhile, the UML has expressed concern over the security situation and misuse of government mechanisms in the elections. Bhattarai said that unannounced alliances are being formed in several places with an aim to corner the UML in the region.

Published: 14-09-2017 08:52

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