National

Poll fight gets tough

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, KANCHANPUR

Nov 15, 2017-With two senior Nepali Congress leaders in the fray, Kanchanpur in the far west has attracted considerable attention.

Stakes are high in the district with three federal parliamentary seats, where NC’s Ramesh Lekhak and NP Saud, known to be close to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, are contesting.

In the 2013 Constituent Assembly elections, the NC had swept all the four constituencies. However, the party managed to win only two federal units in the recently concluded local level elections while the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) won five and two local units, respectively.

The NC is relying on its alliance with the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, the RPP (Prajatantrik) and the Naya Shakti. In all the three constituencies, both the RPP factions have announced to support the NC candidates.

Congress leaders admit that RPP voters will be decisive for them to win the elections. The party is also trying to win the support of the Tharu community arguing that the left alliance snubbed this ethnic community while selecting its candidates.

There are no Tharu candidates from the left alliance for both the federal and provincial parliamentary polls scheduled to be held together on November 26 and December 7. The NC has picked Gita Chaudhary and Shyam Lal Rana as its proportional representation (PR) candidates for the provincial assemblies to woo Tharu voters.

In Kanchanpur-3, there will be a strong competition between NC candidate Ramesh Lekhak and left alliance candidate Deepak Prakash Bhatta. Lekhak had won from the same constituency in 2013 while Bhatta is a new face. Bhatta, a graduate from India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, is known as a security and foreign policy expert and has a long association with the UML.

In campaigns, Lekhak has been highlighting the projects including the proposed Mahakali bridge that he launched in his district when he was a minister.

UML candidate Bhatta, however, charges the NC with failing to introduce development projects in the region. “There are two solid foundations for winning the elections. The votes received by the left alliance in the local election are more than the NC’s. The anti-incumbency factor also comes into play,” Bhatta told the Post. As Lekhak is under fire for failing to create jobs for youths, it could be a plus point for Bhatta to attract more voters.

NP Saud of the NC and Nara Bahadur Dhami of the left alliance are battling it out in Kanchanpur-2. There is a dense population of Haliyas and squatters in this constituency, which many say will be a key factor.

“In the local elections, the left alliance did well due to a rift in our party. Now the party is united and we will win the elections,” Saud said. Dhami of the UML, however, seems confident of winning the vote.

From Kanchanpur-1, Bina Rana Magar of the left alliance, who is also the daughter-in-law of Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, is contesting against NC’s Diwan Singh Bista. In the second CA elections, Magar had got the third position. Magar is upbeat about winning the polls, especially if she gets support from the ethnic community.

Published: 15-11-2017 08:17

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