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Keen contest in Ktm-5 as heavyweights clash

- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

Nov 15, 2017-As the election date draws closer, the battle in Kathmandu-5 is heating up with top-notch leaders of political parties vying for a seat at the House of Representative from the area. 

Two political heavyweights—CPN-UML General Secretary Ishwor Pokhrel and Nepali Congress (NC) central committee member Prakash Sharan Mahat—are going head-to-head in the elections under the first-past-the-post system schedule for December 7.

Having secured the constituency with Narahari Acharya in the last two Constituent Assembly polls, the NC is looking to extend the winning streak in the area, which is considered a party’s tradition vote base.

Acharya had defeated Pokhrel in both the Constituent Assembly elections held in 2008 and 2013. After the NC veteran decided not to run the elections this time around due to poor health, the party has handed the baton to Mahat to retain the constituency. 

But Mahat, a new face in the constituency, is expected to face an uphill task to keep up the NC’s legacy. 

And Pokhrel and the UML camp will be looking to capitalise on that to make amends to their previous poll debacle and break into the Congress bastion. 

The electoral alliance between the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) is likely to go a long way in improving Pokhrel’s prospects.

“Earlier, the left votes had been divided among candidates. Now, even the Maoist vote bank will go to the left-alliance common candidates,” said Balram BK of Tokha Municipality-3.

Kathmandu-5 consists of total 15 wards that include 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Kathmandu Municipality and others from Budhanilkantha and Tokha municipalities. The constituency has total 64,000 eligible voters, according to the EC records.

According to Surya Thapa, coordinator of the left alliance’s Election Mobilisation Committee for Kathmandu-5, they were counting heavily on these municipalities in the face of UML victories in the mayoral races, along with nine ward chairmanships there.

“Our preliminary analyses suggest we are in a comfortable position,” claimed Thapa. 

The local voters have also started questioning the achievement of previously elected leaders. “Undoubtedly, we had a great and well-learned leader from this constituency. But, hardly anything has changed for us,” said Punte Khatri, 66, of Tokha Municipality-5. 

Other voters like Sabitri Rokaya 50, from Baluwatar 4, however, remain loyal to their traditional parties. 

“There is no guarantee which party will make the country better. All the parties have come up with similar election agendas. As none of them has done much nor will they do better in future, I don’t find any compelling reason to switch my allegiance to another party in this election,” said Rokaya. 

Adding more hype to the Kathmandu-5 is the Bibeksheel Sajha Party, with party coordinator Ujwal Thapa making it an interesting three-way battle.  

Having drawn so much of voters’ attention, especially in Kathmandu Valley, the Bibeksheel is expected to give the established parties the run for their money in some of the constituencies. 

Thapa may have finished fifth in the 2013 CA elections but that helped him prove his credentials as a capable youth leader in the region. 

The Bibeksheel is closely following the developments in the rival camps--the prospects of keen contest between the candidates of the two major parties. “NC’s decision to field a new candidate, who is not originally from the area, augurs well for us. Our analysis has shown that chances of vote swing are high among communist voters, which could turn to our side,” said Bhupdev Shah, election campaign coordinator for Thapa. 

Besides Bibeksheel leaders, local voters especially youths believe the new party has the potential to pull off unusual results.

“The race seems likely between major parties, but they cannot undermine the popularity of Thapa and his party,” said Gyanendra Kumar Sharma, a local of Kanti Marga, KMC Ward 4. Bibeksheel’s entry in the poll fray has made it a “fun contest”.   

Ujawal Joshi, a local readymade clothes shop owner, in Tokha Municipality-7 said, “None of the old parties has done anything of substance over the years. Now, new parties deserve their chance everywhere, including this constituency.”

Published: 15-11-2017 08:17

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