DHANKUTA, Nov 17: A neck and neck contest between the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) and the left alliance is set to dominate the upcoming parliamentary and provincial elections in Dhankuta.
NC is leading a 'democratic' alliance consisting of the three parties while the CPN left alliance comprises of the country's two biggest communist parties - CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center). After 15 days of the official candidacy registration day, only the 'democratic' and the left alliances could be seen campaigning for the elections in the district.
Both alliances have fielded established candidates. Therefore, the competition in the election is expected to be tough.
For the parliamentary elections, the left alliance has fielded UML Chairman of Dhakuta chapter Rajendra Kumar Rai. The NC-led alliance has pitched Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) General Secretary Sunil Bahadur Thapa to counter the communist alliance in the constituency.
Both candidates are the residents of the then Muga Village Development Committee, now a part of Pakhribas Municipality. They had also contested against each other in the second Constituent Assembly (CA) elections of 2013 from the then constituency-2. At that time, Thapa had defeated Rai by 456 votes.
Left alliance candidate Rai was jailed in 1977/78 during the tenure of the then Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa while fighting for the multiparty system. On the other hand, his opponent Thapa is the son of former Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa.
In the last local elections, UML had emerged as the dominant force in the district, with a sweeping victory in all seven local units. Rai and UML are working to maintain that legacy through the support of the Maoist Center. The second encounter between Rai and Thapa has generated a keen interest among the observers and voters.
Both candidates are confident of their victory. However, they both face the high of non-cooperation from disgruntled groups within their own parties.
For the provincial elections, the left alliance has fielded UML leader Niral Rai from constituency 1 (a). In opposition, the 'democratic' alliance has fielded NC leader Manoharan Narayan Shrestha. Both the candidates have a strong political background.
Similarly, the left has fielded former District Development Committee member Indra Mani Parajuli. Arjun Thapa of the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal representing the 'democratic alliance' has been fielded against Parajuli.
Dhankuta has only one parliamentary constituency and a total of 105,188 registered voters.