Top leaders pick constituencies, Dahal opts for GorkhaRace hots up as political parties field their first-past-the-post candidates today for the November 20 elections.
CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal had toured several constituencies before he first fought elections after joining the political mainstream in 2008. In the first Constituent Assembly elections, Dahal won from both Kathmandu-10 and Rolpa constituencies. In the 2013 CA polls, he had stood from Kathmandu-10 and Siraha-5 but had won only the latter constituency.
But when he won in the 2017 parliamentary elections from Chitwan-3 even as his daughter Renu Dahal twice locked up Chitwan’s mayoral race, many had thought the Maoist chairman had settled on Chitwan as his permanent electoral base—not the least by building a house there.
But Dahal has surprised party members and outsiders alike by choosing to contest the upcoming House elections from Gorkha. Dahal had drawn heavy criticism for being hell-bent on getting his daughter elected even by forging an alliance with the Nepali Congress.
This time he was said to be planning to run from Chitwan-3. Now he has hopped on to Gorkha-2.
As the Election Commission has set the October 8 deadline for nominating candidates under the first-past-the-post category, political parties are giving final touches to their lists of candidates. With at least two electoral alliances in the play, securing party tickets has been challenging, even for party heavyweights.
The CPN-UML forged an eleventh-hour alliance with the Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) Nepal. The Rastriya Prajatantra Party has also partnered with the UML for the upcoming polls. Meanwhile, the Janata Samajbadi Party on Thursday reached an electoral deal with the UML after ditching the five-party alliance led by the Nepal Congress.
The Congress-led alliance has the Maoist Centre, the Unified Socialist and Rastriya Janamorcha as partners. After the JSP’s exit, Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP) seized the chance to be in the five-party electoral alliance. The LSP will now field eight of its leaders as the coalition’s common candidates for the federal elections, as per the agreement reached with the Congress on Saturday.
UML chair KP Sharma Oli will contest from Jhapa-5 with support from Rastriya Prajatantra Party. Oli won the 2017 elections from the same constituency as a candidate of the left alliance.
Senior UML vice-chair Ishwar Pokharel is throwing his hat in the ring from Kathmandu-5 this time. He won the previous election from the same constituency.
Party vice-chairs Subas Nembang and Bishnu Poudel are fighting the polls from Ilam-2 and Rupandehi-2, respectively.
Vice chair Asta Laxmi Shakya has decided not to contest the election though she was picked as a party candidate from Kathmandu-8. General Secretary Shankar Pokharel will contest from Dang-2 while party deputy general secretary Pradeep Gyawali will fight the elections from Gulmi 1.
The Nepali Congress won only 23 first-past-the-post seats in 2017 as it fought the UML-Maoist Centre communist alliance. This time, the Congress hopes to win most seats of all parties as it fields candidates in 90 electoral seats. The rest of the 165 FPTP seats go to other coalition partners.
President Sher Bahadur Deuba is standing in the election from Dadeldhura. The UML is not fielding its candidate there, but the party will support Karna Malla, vice-president of Nepali Congress (BP).
Congress Vice-president Purna Bahadur Khadka is contesting from Surket-1. He was unanimously recommended for the constituency by the party committee. Vice-president Dhanraj Gurung is contesting from Syangja-2. This will be Gurung’s first direct contest.
General Secretary Gagan Thapa is geared up to fight in Kathmandu-4. Thapa had won from the same constituency in 2013 and 2017 elections as well. Another Congress General Secretary, Bishwa Prakash Sharma, will fight the election from Jhapa-1. He was defeated by Ram Karki, a Maoist leader, in the same constituency in 2017.
Congress senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel is in the fray in Tanahun-1. He had lost the 2017 election to Kishan Shrestha, a common candidate of the left alliance, in the same constituency.
Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand eyes the Rupandehi-3 seat, whereas former general secretary Shashank Koirala is preparing for his bid from Nawalparasi East-1. Former general secretary Prakash Man Singh will contest from Kathmandu-1.
Likewise, former general secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula will contest the election from Jhapa-3 against Rastriya Prajatantra Party chair Rajendra Lingden.
Leader of the dissident camp of Congress, Shekhar Koirala, is set to contest from Morang-6. Koirala was defeated in the previous election in the same constituency.
Minister for Information and Communication Technology Gyanendra Bahadur Karki is set for the Sunsari-4 battle.
For the Unified Socialist party, the upcoming House of Representatives election will be crucial. After splitting from the UML last year, the party is participating in its first election, in what will be its litmus test. The party has secured 20 electoral seats under the alliance.
Party chair Madhav Kumar Nepal is contesting the November 20 polls from Rautahat-1, where he secured victory in the previous election. Senior leader Jhala Nath Khanal will contest from Ilam-1.
Unified Socialist secretary Ram Kumari Jhakri will be in the fray from Gulmi-2. Party spokesperson Jagannath Khatiwada will vie from Udayapur-2. Prem Ale is set to join the battle in Doti, Kishan Shrestha in Bara-4, Birod Khatiwada in Makanpur-2 and Prakash Jwala in Salyan.
Maoist General Secretary Dev Gurung has got the Lamjung candidacy. Deputy General Secretaries Barsha Man Pun and Janardhan Sharma will contest from Rolpa and West Rukum, respectively. Pampha Bhusal is fighting the elections from Lalitpur 3, Shakti Basnet from Jajarkot, Haribol Gajurel from Sindhuli-2 and Giriraj Mani Pokharel from Mahottari-1.
As part of their cooperation, the CPN-UML is tipped to support the Rastriya Prajatantra Party’s Dhawal Shamsher Rana in Banke-2, Dipak Bohora in Rupandehi-3, and party chair Rajendra Lingden in Jhapa-3.
Seat-selection is getting interesting in the Madhesh province as well.
Janata Samajbadi Party chair Upendra Yadav is contesting the polls from Saptari 2, the constituency he won also in 2017. Ramsahay Prasad Yadav will contest from Bara-2. Another party leader, Pradip Yadav, is throwing his hat in the ring from Parsa-1.
In the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party, chair Mahantha Thakur is contesting the polls from Mahottari-3, the constituency he won in 2017. Senior leader Rajendra Mahato is the party’s candidate in Dhanusha-3. To bolster Mahato’s prospects, Congress leader Bimalendra Nidhi had decided to enlist himself for a proportional representation seat. Last election, Mahato won Dhanusha-3 with support from the left alliance.
Sarat Singh Bhandari, another senior leader of LSP, is said to fight for Mahottari-2, whereas Anil Kumar Jha will run for the House seat in Rautahat-1. Sarvendra Nath Sukla is expected to be in the fray in Rupandehi.