Published On: August 30, 2017 05:03 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, August 30: Poll campaigns in Province 2 have failed to gather the expected pace with the political parties struggling to finalize their candidates for the third round of civic poll which is just three weeks away. As of Tuesday, the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal is the only party to announce the list of poll candidates contesting for 136 local units which are scheduled to go to polls on September 18.
Other parties have not been able to select their candidates with multiple leaders vying for tickets for a single seat. The surge in the number of prospective candidates has not only created problems for the parties to take the final call but also raised the risk of internal rebellion in the parties.
CPN-UML leaders claimed that the party has almost finalized the list of its candidates. A meeting of UML leaders headed by party's acting chairman Bamdev Gautam on Monday had endorsed the candidates for majority of seats. The party is yet to decide its candidates for a few local units in Dhanusha district due to disputes among various factions.
"We are almost done with the candidate selection process. The final names would be published on Thursday," said UML Secretary Pradeep Gyawali.
Like the UML, the CPN (Maoist Center) has also selected candidates for most of the seats but appears reluctant to make it public fearing rebellion on the ground. Most of the party's district committees have recommended multiple names for a single seat due to infighting among senior Madhesi leaders like Matrika Yadav and Prabhu Sha, to secure seats for their loyalists.
"Like in the past, our party is planning to make the list public on the eve of the candidacy registration process," said Maoist Center Spokesperson Pampha Bhusal.
The Nepali Congress (NC) and the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) are facing bigger challenges in selecting their candidates due to sheer number of prospective candidates vying for poll tickets. Both the parties consider Province 2 as their stronghold and plan to emerge as the largest party in the third phase of local elections.
NC and RJPN leaders said that there has been very little progress in the candidate selection process so far. Many NC leaders including Shekhar Koirala have raised serious concerns over the exclusion of the party's top leaders from the candidate selection process. The party has assigned selected central committee members to make the final call on candidate selection.
RJPN, which was formed earlier this year through a merger among six Madhes-based parties, has formed a special committee to finalize the candidate selection process. But RJPN leaders said the committee has not been able to get the excepted success in finalizing the candidates due to claims from six factions on almost all seats. A meeting called to select Birgunj mayoral candidates had ended up in a nasty brawl among two factions.
"There are disputes in nearly all seats. The presidium should first allocate the number of seats to each faction on the basis of their strength in parliament. If they do that, it will be easier for the selection committee to expedite its works," said a leader in the selection committee.
The delay in candidate selection has particularly hit the poll campaigns. Candidates in most of the municipalities and rural municipalities are yet to start their door-to-door campaigns, considered key for winning the elections.
But cross party leaders said that the delay in candidate selection was not the only reason affecting the poll campaigns.
The parties have deliberately avoided colorful campaigns in the wake of the devastating monsoon-induced floods in terai plains. The floods, one of the worst natural disasters to hit the country after the Gorkha earthquake, left as many as 150 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.
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