JHAPA, July 7: Most of the influential leaders of big parties here in the district failed to maintain their influence in their strongholds as candidates of rival parties emerged victorious in their traditionally established bastions.
KrishnaPrasad Sitaula, Keshav Kumar Budhathoki and Suhdir Shiwakoti of Nepali Congress remained helpless in their own bastions after the party's candidates were defeated by the rival parties. UML leader Agni Kharel, Deepak Karki and Rabi Koirala among others also faced similar fate. UML candidates were defeated in their home constituencies considered as the party's stronghold in the past. "Rival party's victory in home constituencies of senior leaders shows how their influence is weakening in local politics. This shows mistrust toward them," said political analyst Chakra Poudel, adding, "Election result in Jhapa proved the same."
Congress leader Sitaula suffered the most in June 28 elections. Sitaula, who is bolstering his influence in the central party politics by forming a separate group in the Congress, failed to impress voters in his own election constituency. Congress candidates were defeated in Bhadrapur Municipality and Kachankawal Rural Municipality, which fall under Sitaula's election constituency.
UML candidate emerged victorious in Bhadrapur while Rastriya Prajatantra Party won chief and other positions of Kechankewal Rurual Municipality by huge margin.
Locals say growing anti-Sitaula campaign in the district is considered as one of major reasons behind Congress' defeat in Bhadrapur and Kechanakewal. "This time many friends wanted to defeat the party's candidates in view of downsizing Sitaula's strength at any cost," said a leader of NC adding, "This is one of the major reasons behind the party's downfall in the election."
The leader indicated toward NC's internal disputes and said Situala himself is responsible for the party's poor performance.
Sitaula was under enormous pressure than any other politician while fielding candidates in Jhapa. He had invited such tension by fielding all candidates of wards and municipalities on his own.
Sidelining the party's front runners, Sitaula fielded Ganesh Pokharel as mayoral candidate of Bhadrapur. Dismayed by the decision, the party's local leaders Rajendra Ghimire and Jit Bahadur Puri among others initiated signature campaign against Sitaula.
Instead of taking the disgruntled leaders into confidence, he totally ignored them saying that 'nothing will happen'. His remark further widened the rift among the party's rank and file. Consequently, local leaders remained totally inactive during poll campaigns.
UML fielded former deputy mayor Jiban Kumar Shrestha, who is considered relatively popular among locals, at a time when intra-party rift was deepening in the Congress party. Consequently, Shrestha received 11,045 votes against Pokharel's 7,215.
UML candidate Chandra Shrestha emerged victorious in deputy mayoral race with a margin of 4,152 votes defeating Tara Devi Bhurtel of Congress, who received 6,498 votes.
Sitaula is not the only senior leader to face defeat in his home constituency. UML leaders Agni Kharel, Hikmat Karki and lawmaker Deepak Karki, who represent Jhapa constituency no 6 also faced similar fate in Gauradaha, the party's stronghold.
UML candidate Madan Adhikari was defeated by Congress leader Rohit Sah. Soon after party's defeat in the election, blame game has emerged within the UML.
Defeat in Gauradaha is linked with the party Chairman KP Oli's influence in this election constituency. Both Hikmat Karki and Deepak Karki are considered as close confidants of Chairman Oli. Their soured relations with another UML leader Agni Kharel is considered as the reason behind the party's defeat in Gauradaha.
Adhikari is considered close to Madhav Nepal. "We were defeated in the election as senior leaders of Oli camp clashed among themselves to weaken each other," said a UML leader close to Nepal camp, "Disputes between Karki brothers and Kharel ultimately defeated us."
UML was also defeated in Gaurigunj, which falls under lawmaker Karki's election constituency. RPP emerged winner in Gaurigunj.
Similarly, Congress failed to emerge winner in Shivastakshi Municipality, the election constituency of Congress leader Keshav Kumar Budhathoki. Chandra Kumar Sharma and Bhoj Kumari Nepal of UML were elected mayor and deputy-mayor in Shivastakshi Municipality.
UML emerged victorious in Birtamod, the election constituency of Congress lawmaker Sudhir Kumar Shiwakoti. UML candidate Dhruba Shiwakoti and Pabita Mahatara were respectively elected mayor and deputy mayor of Birtamod.