December 3, 2019 08:14 AM NPT
By: Rohit Rai
DHARAN, Dec 3: Dharan, considered to be a safe constituency for the CPN-UML until recently has ceased to be so if the by-election results are anything go by.
In the election held on Saturday, the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) candidate lost the mayorship of Dharan Sub-Metropolis to Nepali Congress candidate Tilak Rai. Rai secured 26,709 votes, which is 2,795 more than the votes won by his closet rival NCP candidate Prakash Rai’s.
During the Panchayat era and after the mass movement of 1989, communists had won every elections here. So, it was assumed that the legacy would continue. However, Rai who had lost the seat to NCP candidate during the 2017 election has set a new record this time.
During the local level elections of 2017, the then CPN-UML candidate had won the posts of mayor, deputy mayor and chairperson of 14 wards in the sub-metropolis and the then CPN (Maoist Center) candidate had won chairperson post in just one ward.
The slogan Nepali Congress forwarded this time was – ‘Vote for Change’. Whether people trust the Congress for change or not is still debatable. Dr Amrit Kumar Shrestha, assistant professor of political science at Mahendra Multiple Campus feels that people favored Congress candidate not because the people really trust the party but it was an expression of frustration with the ruling NCP. “What I see is, people are frustrated,” he said.
Shrestha elaborated that the influence of the communists party gradually waned over the last few months as the merger between the two parties [CPN-UML and Maoist Center] took a very long time and that quite affected the party activities in Dharan. On the other hand, Nepali Congress left no stone unturned in wooing the voters. “Congress launched nationwide campaign. It was busy strengthening the party setup,” said Shrestha. “All the top leaders of the Congress visited Dharan, they established connection with the general people. All that worked I guess,” he added.
Analysts also blamed the internal struggle within the NCP for the defeat. “Internal conflict has hit the party,” noted Shrestha.
Meanwhile, following his victory, Rai has promised that he would do all in his powers to make Dharan developed and prosperous. Speaking at different forums he said that he would respect the popular mandate. “I am humbled by the win. I will give my best to change the face of Dharan,” he said. Talking to media he said he would fight corruption.