Federal & Provincial Elections 2017

Supporters see Rawal as future PM, UML boss

  • Opponents charge him with doing little for the district
- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, MENUKA DHUNGANA, ACHHAM

Nov 12, 2017-CPN-UML Vice-chairman Bhim Rawal has built an image of a national leader in some far-western districts including in his home constituency Achham. Even the cadres and leaders of rival parties acknowledge Rawal as the senior most leader of the region after PM and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba.

In the ongoing election campaigns, local UML leaders and cadres are projecting Rawal as a future prime minister and party chairman. He is competing with Nepali Congress leader Bharat Kumar Swar, the party’s district president.

It will be an uphill task for Rawal to win the federal House seat from Achham-1 where his opponents have charged him with doing little for the district despite becoming minister twice. Rawal served as the home minster in 2009 and defence minister in 2014. However, Rawal is under fire mainly for his inability to bring new projects to the district and to address pressing everyday concerns of people.

Rawal dismisses the allegations saying that he has initiated various development projects besides fulfilling his duty as a national leader. “My candidacy is for implementing the constitution and reinforcing the left alliance, which will bring prosperity and development in the district,” Rawal told the Post.

Rawal won a seat during the second Constituent Assembly elections in 2013. In the first CA polls held in 2008, he did not contest the first-past-the-post vote and was elected under the proportional representation (PR) category. In the 1999 parliamentary polls, Rawal faced defeat. There is a perception in the far-western districts that any leader who holds a ministerial position should do something for the development of the region.

NC candidate Swar said though Rawal has built the image of a national leader, the NC has contributed more to the development of the district since the 1990s. Swar is a former chairman of the District Development Committee, now the District Coordination Committee. “When I was the DDC Chairman, I launched several development projects in the district,” said Swar.

The dominant population in the district is of Brahmins and Chhetris. All the parties have chosen candidates mainly from the Chhetri community. For both FPTP and PR categories of federal and provincial parliaments, three parties—the NC, the Maoists and the UML—have picked candidates from the Chhetri community. There are not any candidates from Dalits and other marginalised communities. According to Census 2011, Chhetris constitute 56 percent to the total population while Brahmins account for 12 percent. Other major ethnic groups include Dalits and Magars.

Budhi Ganga Hydro-electricity and Seti Lokmarga are the major development pledges of the left alliance and the Congress. From Achham-2, Yagya Bogati of the left alliance and Pushpa Shah of the Nepali Congress are the contestants. Both NC and UML leaders agree that the UML’s position is strong in Constituency-1 while the NC is strong in Constituency-2. “We will win Constituency-2 but we have to do a lot of hard work to win Constituency-1,” said NC district leader Nama Bahadur Shahi.

In the 1991 parliamentary election, the NC had won all the three constituencies while in the 1993 elections, in which the constituencies were reduced to two, the UML was the victor. The NC won both the seats in 1999. In the first CA elections, the UML won Constituency-1 and the Maoists won Constituency-2. The UML had won both the seats in the 2013 CA election.

No force can prevent left alliance’s victory: Oli

JHAPA: CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli has said no one can prevent the left alliance from emerging victorious in the upcoming federal and provincial elections scheduled to be held together on November 26 and December 7.

Addressing a party programme in Dhulabari on Saturday, Oli claimed that the Nepali Congress was scared by the unity of the UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre). The NC’s strategy to divide the communist forces and rule the country will come to an end soon, the UML chair said. He added that the upcoming race would be between the parties in favour of development and those “hell bent on looting the country”.

The UML chief, who is vying for a federal parliamentary seat from Jhapa-5, is in the district for campaigning. (PR)

Published: 12-11-2017 08:16

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