IILAM, Nov 3: In the much anticipated parliamentary elections scheduled for December 7, three political heavyweights will be testing their fate. In a bid to protect their legacy, these candidates have expedited their visits to their respective constituencies and intensified their campaigns.
Former Prime Minister and senior leader of CPN-UML, Jhala Nath Khanal, former Speaker and leader of CPN-UML, Subash Chandra Nembang and leader of Nepali Congress (NC) Keshav Thapa are among the well known faces to register their names for the polls. Interestingly, all of these candidates have been picked time and again by their parties even in previous polls. The nomination of powerful leaders in the same battlefield is expected to lead to an interesting electoral contest.
While Khanal and Nembang were chosen unanimously by their party and members of the left alliance, NC's district committee had forwarded the names of four candidates including Thapa to the party's headquarters for taking the final decision. In the federal polls, Khanal will be contesting from constituency no 1 of the district and Nembang will be competing for constituency no 2. Thapa has been fielded as the main rival of Nembang in constituency-2.
As all three candidates have been the district representatives to the parliament. All of them are worried about protecting their strongholds and most importantly their legacy. Earlier, Khanal won the parliamentary elections four times while Nembang has won thrice and Thapa twice. Khanal and Thapa have been defeated one time each in their areas. Nembang on the other hand has emerged victorious in all three elections. Earlier there were two electoral constituencies which were merged and changed to only one after the recent local level restructuring.
This is the reason why the candidates cannot be sure about the votes. “People keep showering me with their love and blessings. So, I hope they will give me another chance to serve them,” said Jhala Nath Khanal. According to him, he made this decision in a bid to respect the desire of the locals as they wanted him in this post.
NC's Bhupendra Kattel has been fielded as the main competitor of Khanal. Though Kattel has a long political career, he has never become a member of parliament. For a long time, he was serving as a regional chairperson of NC and now he is an active member of the party. In the election of 1990, he was elected as the chairperson of Fikkal VDC-8. During the door-to-door visits, Kattel has been claiming his victory with the locals. “People are tired of seeing the same old faces time and again. They are expecting new faces with genuine agendas,” said Kattel.
This is the second time Nembang is competing against NC's Thapa in the same constituency. “I thought of contesting in the elections for the amendment of the constitution, stability and prosperity of the country,” said Nembang, adding, “Left alliance has aimed to make Nepal prosperous within next five years and we hope people will give us a chance to do so.”
In the parliamentary election of 1999, NC's Thapa had defeated CPN-UML candidate Agam Prasad Bantawa in constituency no 3. However, in the Constituent Assembly elections of 2008, he was defeated by Nembang. But Thapa made it to the post again after the elections of 2013 by defeating his closest rival Tek Bahadur Rai of CPN-UML. “The works that I did for the development of villages and protection of democracy is the reason why people should vote for me,” said Thapa.