Three UML leaders in race for Province 1 chief minister

Published On: December 15, 2017 08:00 AM NPT By: Ajit Tiwari

BIRATNAGAR, Dec 15: Three central level leaders of the CPN-UML which has emerged as the single largest party in the provincial assembly polls have staked a claim to the post of chief minister of Province 1.

UML politburo member Sher Dhan Rai, who had asserted himself as the candidate for the chief minister of Province 1 even before the election, has been elected from Bhojpur district. Another senior UML leader Bhim Acharya, who has been elected to the provincial assembly from Sunsari district, has also staked a claim to the post of chief minister. 

Besides Rai and Acharya, the elected Provincial Assembly member from Morang district, Jiwan Ghimire is also vying for the coveted position of chief minister in Province 1.

Together, the UML and CPN (Maoist Center) have secured 46 of the total 56 seats under the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system in Province 1. 

While the UML has bagged 36 seats, the CPN (Maoist Center) and Nepali Congress (NC) have won 10 and 8 seats, respectively. Similarly, Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) has won one seat and an independent candidate one seat in the provincial assembly of Province 1. 

The three senior leaders of UML have staked a claim to the post at a time when leaders are engaged in internal discussions on where to set up the provincial capital. “The left alliance is in trouble as three senior leaders are eyeing for the post of chief minister,” said a UML leader of the party's Province Secretariat.

The leader said factional politics within the UML is also at play. While Rai belongs to Chairman K P Oli faction, Acharya and Ghimire are seen close to the faction-led by Madhav Kumar Nepal in the party. 

In the UML politics, Acharya and Ghimire are the oldest leaders, while Rai is a young generation leader. Although active in the UML politics for a long time, Ghimire has not held any public position so far. “I also have claimed the post of chief minister,” said Ghimire. “Those who have claimed the post have already held public positions of benefits. Since I have not held any position so far, I have claimed this post.”

UML's official meeting will take the decision on the name of the chief minister. Sources said Acharya, Rai and Ghimire have been exerting pressure on the party leadership to name them as the chief minister of Province 1, which is rich in natural resources as it consists of mountain, hill and plain regions of Nepal. 

Rai, who is also the party's joint coordinator of Province 1, said he is the strongest contender for the post in Province 1. He claimed that he is sure to become a chief minister as he has been elected consecutively for the second time from Bhojpur.  

“I chose to contest the provincial assembly polls to become the chief minister. Although I am a joint coordinator of Province 1, I have contested the provincial assembly polls,” said Rai. “I have been elected with a huge number of votes. This is the reason why I am seen as the candidate of the chief minister of Province 1. 

Also coordinator of UML's Province 1 chapter, Acharya argued that he is the most deserving and senior candidate of the party for the post of chief minister of Province 1. “The party may select chief ministerial candidates through its procedures. It is difficult to say anything about it right now,” said Acharya. “I am the most deserving and senior candidate, compared to other aspirants.”

Acharya, who is UML Secretary, contested the polls from the most secure constituency of UML in Sunsari district to become the chief minister. “The party will decide the chief minister when the time comes,” he said, arguing that it is not necessary to make “unnecessary noise” right now.

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