Thapa fights to retain repute, Bhattarai makes fresh forayAs two youth leaders—Gagan Thapa of the Nepali Congress and Rajan Bhattarai of the left alliance—slug it out in Kathmandu-4, voters have a difficult choice to make. While people see both leaders as “capable” who can deliver, they are confused over whom to select among the two “competent” leaders.
As two youth leaders—Gagan Thapa of the Nepali Congress and Rajan Bhattarai of the left alliance—slug it out in Kathmandu-4, voters have a difficult choice to make. While people see both leaders as “capable” who can deliver, they are confused over whom to select among the two “competent” leaders.
The Nepali Congress has fielded Thapa, who had won the previous election from the same constituency, while Bhattarai is a common candidate of the left alliance.
Many voters said they were studying both the candidates. “I have not decided yet who to vote for because I am in confusion since both the candidates are equally competent,” said Saru Neupane of Budhanilkantha-11.
With both Thapa and Bhattarai in fray under the first-past-the-post category, questions are being asked about what they did in the past four years in Kathmandu-4. Thapa, a popular NC leader, was elected in the direct polls in the second Constituent Assembly elections of 2013 while Bhattarai was nominated under the proportional representation category from this constituency. They were not happy with the performance of both the leaders, especially on development works in the constituency.
While Thapa has won accolades for his works in the health sector as the health minister, especially by making health care affordable to the people and strengthening government health institutions and the health service as a whole, voters say he could also have done something for infrastructural development. As a member of the Nepal-India Eminent Persons Group, Bhattarai has been working to redefine Nepal-India relations.
Though he is still popular, many voters feel that Thapa’s charm is not what it used to be last election. Most of the youths whose parents supported a leftist party had also voted for Thapa last elections.
“Thapa failed to deliver what he had promised during the previous polls,” said Ranju Rijal, a teacher in Kapan.
“No leader has ever come up with plans for development. Whatever infrastructure you see here were made out of locals’ contribution,” said Shiva Prasad Neupane, a social worker in Budhanilkantha Munici-pality-12, pointing to the roads. Neupane, who has been living in the area for 35 years, recalled that development works were possible only due to locals’ participation.
For many voters, easy availability of water is a major demand. “Most of the places in wards 10, 11 and 12 in the municipality at Kapan are facing shortages of drinking water. The problem is more acute in ward 11,” said another voter Babukaji Dhital, adding that the need for drinking water for more than 1,000 households was catered to by the private Jordhara Sanstha by collecting Rs350 a month.
On a frustrated note, Khim Raj Khatri, chairman of the Aagaman Tol Sudhar Samiti in Budhanilkantha-11, said they would have to continue inhaling dust and smoke “whoever we send to parliament from the constituency”.
Bhattarai, contesting direct polls for the first time, is called a “tourist” candidate by many though he is a resident of Chabahil. Voter said Bhattarai seldom visited the constituency during his last tenure. While Thapa remained popular among the youth, some said Bhattarai is not reaching out to young voters. One of them is KMC-7 Ward Chairman Krishna Mani Pudasaini, who said Bhattarai should engage with young voters. Many voters in the Kapan area said no candidate has reached them yet for votes. They were also not aware of other candidates, especially those contesting for provincial parliament seats. Voting in Kathmandu is scheduled to be held on December 7 in the second phase.
The constituency covers four wards of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City—1, 7, 8, and 30 [4 (A)] and 12 wards of Budhanilkantha Munici-pality-1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 that constitute 4 (B) of the provincial constituency.
Out of the total 12 wards, the UML won eight while the NC bagged four in the recent local level elections. The left alliance was ahead with more than 5,000 votes.