ILAM, Nov 11: After registering his candidacy on November 2, former speaker of parliament Subas Chandra Nembang headed straight to ashram of Kirat religious leader Aatma Nanda Lingden in Larumba (Mangsebung Rural Municipality) of Ilam district. He received blessings from the guru, which marked the beginning of his election campaign.
Larumba falls in constituency-2 of Ilam where Nembang had won the elections for three consecutive times. Once again, CPN-UML senior leader Nembang is contesting from the same constituency representing the left alliance, which comprises of UML and CPN (Maoist Center).
Just a day before Nembang's visit, his opponent from Nepali Congress (NC) Keshav Kumar Gurung had reached the ashram to seek the guru's blessings. Now, both of the parliamentary candidates are running their election campaign in full fledge.
In the second Constituent Assembly (CA) elections of 2013, UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli too had visited the ashram to seek blessings from the religious leader. At that time, he was contesting the elections from Jhapa constituency-7. Oli's visit to the ashram had gain widespread attention.
Mangsebung of Ilam is a holy site for thousands of pilgrims of the Kirat community scattered across the world. Lingden is regarded highly and revered by the community. Especially his ashram gets crowded after the election date is declared.
“Local cadres and senior leaders of various political parties come to greet the guru when the election nears. They all seek blessings from him,” said a local.
Political leaders have admitted that they do not visit the guru just because of their beliefs. “There is a common belief that the blessings from the guru sway lots of votes in favor of those who visit him,” said a district leader of NC.
A committee has been set up to support Lingden and to promote the Kirat religion and literature. Political parties have adopted the name of the committee, Mangena, in an effort to attract voters.
NC candidate Thapa has denied that he met the guru for elections. “I met the guru not in the hopes of getting more votes. I just felt like I should meet him during the election campaign,” he said.
Narendra Kumar Rai of Rastriya Prajatantra Party, who was elected as chairman of ward-5 in the recent local elections, said that the guru is not affiliated to any political parties despite huge crowd of politicians gathered to meet him.
Photo Courtesy: Nawaraj Shankar
This photo taken from Facebook shows CPN-UML leader Subash Chandra Nembang after receiving blessings from Kirati religious guru Aamat Nanda Lingden in Ilam on November 2.