Chitwan, September 13
CPN-Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has recently announced that he will contest the upcoming parliamentary polls from his home district of Chitwan. Though Dahal has not selected a constituency among three of the district, discussions about likely poll results have already begun after Dahal’s announcement.
It is very likely that Dahal will choose Constituency Number 3 for the polls. It is not only because he spent most of his childhood in Shivanagar of Bharatpur, which lies in this constituency, but also because Bharatpur Metropolitan City and Madi Municipality, where the constituency spans across, are let by Maoist leaders as mayors.
But still, there are some challenges in front of Dahal to turn the table on his side in the polls.
First, the Maoist party is in the third position in this constituency on the basis of votes received in recent local level elections. Dahal’s daughter Renu has been elected the Mayor of Bharapur in May polls and 19 wards of the city are in this constituency in addition to the entire Madi Municipality. But, most of these wards are strongholds of Nepali Congress and Congress candidates had won as ward chairs and members in the recent polls. The poll data show that the Congress is in the first position in this constituency followed by CPN-UML. It means Dahal can make an easy win only if the Congress and Maoists keep the election alliance intact till December polls.
Second, local youth leaders of Nepali Congress are not in favour of the alliance. Some leaders of Nepal Tarun Dal, the Congress youth wing, have announced on social media that they will file candidacy against Dahal even if the party decides for partnership.
Third, Bandarmudhe, where more than 40 civilians were killed in a Maoist attack, during the ward era lies in this constituency and the voters here may not be positive towards Dahal. Though the Maoist candidate, Thakur Dhakal, has been elected the Mayor of Madi, that includes this village, people may perceive Dahal differently. Further, Dhakal was not a war-time Maoist cadre, but had defected to the party after the Maoists joined peace process.
But, why did Dahal make the announcement?
No party wants its chair to lose the general elections. New election law bars a leader from contesting polls in more than one constituency.
Dahal, therefore, has not made the announcement without calculating his strength in the district.
Dahal’s first, and the most important hope, perhaps is the support from Nepali Congress. It is likely that Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and Maoist Chair Dahal, the two most powerful leaders of current ruling alliance, may forge an agreement to support each other in the polls, also to deprive the main opposition UML of victory.
Published on September 13th, Wednesday, 2017 1:13 PM