CHITWAN, May 3: Registration of candidates for the first phase of the local elections has concluded in Chitwan district on Tuesday, the last day to register the candidacies for the polls slated for May 14.
The district has seven local units altogether - one metropolitan city, five municipalities and one rural municipality. With the elections now just 11 days away, locals are bound to observe a fierce competition among the candidates in those local units as the poll date nears.
There are 313,000 voters in the district, out of which 150,247 are in Bharatpur Metropolitan City, which has 29 wards. Along with the big three parties, the metropolis has candidates from fringe parties as well as independent candidates.
In Bharatpur's election battleground, the major ruling coalition partner Nepali Congress (NC) has fielded Dinesh Koirala for the mayoral post and Parwati Shah for the post of deputy mayor. Likewise, the ruling CPN (Maoist Center) has fielded Renu Dahal and Surendra Gurung as its candidates for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor respectively.
On the other hand, the main opposition CPN-UML has decided to support Devi Gyawali and Dibya Sharma in their endeavors to win the coveted posts of mayor and deputy mayor respectively. Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), which had recently quit the present government, has fielded Badri Timilsina and Rina Gurung to vie for the post of the metropolitan city's mayor and deputy mayor respectively.
Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai's Naya Shakti Party has selected Surya Timilsina and Sharada Ghimire for the respective two posts. The candidates, however, have been registered as independent candidates.
Candidates from all the major parties, including the Maoist Center, RPP, and UML, have already filed their nomination papers for all 29 wards of the district for various positions.
Altogether, there are 147 positions available, such as ward chairperson and members.
The candidates have made ambitious promises, such as developing the metropolitan city as a city that is sound in terms of technology as well as infrastructure. They also promised to promote it as a tourism hub. Many have also said they will soon publish their commitment letters.
Background of mayoral candidates
NC's Bharatpur mayoral candidate Dinesh Koirala, 42, started his political career in 1985 after joining the party's student wing, Nepal Students Union. He has already served as the chairman of the Nepal chapter of international social work organization JCC. He has pledged to promote youth leadership for the country's development and prosperity.
UML's mayoral candidate Devi Gyawali is a well known politician of Chitwan. He was also elected as Bharatpur's deputy mayor in the election of 1997. He contested in the first Constituent Assembly elections from Chitwan-3, but lost.
Maoist Center's Renu Dahal is a new figure in Chitwan's politics. She is the daughter of current Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Although she passed her School Leaving Certificate exams from Chitwan, she was forced to flee the district after the armed conflict started. She has not shown much presence in election campaigns of the district. She is on a campaign to get established among her voters and party's cadres after being selected as the party's mayoral candidate for Bharatpur.