TIKAPUR, June 23: Tikapur Municipality of Kailali district, which gained notoriety about two years ago over the killing of seven police personnel and a toddler during a clash with agitating Tharuhat activists, is all set to put the bitter past behind it and participate in the upcoming local polls.
One third of the estimated 39,000 eligible voters in Tikapur belong to the Tharu community and they will play a decisive role in the local elections being held after a hiatus of 20 years. The remaining two-thirds of the population in the area are of hill origin from various communities.
The second phase elections are just days away. A majority of the Tharu community, which had demanded a separate province in the 2015 protests to safeguard its identity, has remained quiet since the bloody Tikapur incident. But the big parties appear to be actively canvasing their vote, realising well that the Tharu vote will be crucial.
Leaders and cadres of the ruling Nepali Congress (NC), the main opposition CPN-UML, major ruling coalition partner CPN (Maoist Center) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) are doing their utmost to woo the Tharus. The parties are puishing the message that they had nothing to do with the Tikapur incident although they have been championing the rights of the Tharus.
Meanwhile, Nepal Loktantrik Forum (NFL), the party that has been consistently raising its voice over issues concerning the Tharu community, is working to marshal the undisputed support of that community and win big in the polls. The party is also determined to take advantage of the absence of any Chaudhary candidate from the big parties. NFL has fielded Lotan Chaudhary as their candidate for mayor.
All the big three parties have fielded candidates from among the migrants from Accham district, who are the most numerous after the Tharus. NC has fielded Junga Bahadur Saud and UML Tapendra Rawal, while Maoist Center has reposed their faith in Lalit Thapa
NC district leader Fakir Singh Kadayat expressed confidence that the Tharu community would vote Congress. He justified not fielding any Tharu candidate, stating there was no discrimination in Tikapur between the people of hill origin and the original Tharu inhabitants.
“However, it is true that some forces are attempting to create friction between Pahadis and Tharus by promoting caste divisions,” he added.