Left alliance to give tough challenge to Congress stronghold in Morang

Published On: November 9, 2017 04:30 AM NPT By: Ajit Tiwari

BIRATNAGAR, Nov 9: Due to its rich industrial legacy, Morang district has always been considered as an important strategic place by political parties. This is why the country's major parties are leaving no stone unturned to grab victories in the district these upcoming elections.

Parliamentary and provincial elections in the district are slated for the second phase on December 7. The district has the highest number of registered voters in the country. According to the District Election Office, there are 644,782 voters in Morang. 
The ruling Nepali Congress (NC) has a strong grip in all six election constituencies of the district. The main opposition, left alliance, comprising of CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) is preparing to give NC a tough fight.

In the second Constitution Assembly (CA) elections in 2013, the NC had secured victories in five constituencies out of the total nine in existence back then. UML had won the other three, while Maoist Center had claimed the remaining one.

NC has fielded established politicians to counter the threat posed by the leftists. The party has given parliamentary election tickets to district president Dig Bahadur Limbu in constituency-1, Dr Minendra Rijal in constituency-2, Sunil Sharma in constituency-3, Mahesh Acharya in constituency-4, Amrit Aryal in constituency-5, and Dr Shekhar Koirala in constituency-6.

Among those candidates, Limbu, Acharya, Aryal and Koirala had secured victories in the second CA elections while Rijal is contesting the elections for the first time.
In the opposition, the left alliance has fielded UML leaders Ghana Shyam Khatiwada in constituency-1, Rishikesh Pokharel in constituency-2, Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal in constituency-3, Maoist Center leaders Aman Modi in constituency-4, Shiva Kumar Mandal in constituency-5 and UML leader Lal Babu Pandit in constituency-6.
UML's Pokharel and Maoist Center's Mandal had emerged victorious in the second CA elections. On the other hand, their candidate of constituency-1 Khatiwada was defeated by NC's Limbu in the previous election. 

For the left alliance, constituency-3 is considered as their safest bet for victory. However, UML candidate Dhakal faces tough opponent in NC's Sharma, who resigned as operator of Nobel Medical College after getting the election ticket. Sharma is promoting his election campaign by organizing health camps.

Political observers say that it will be much easier for the NC to woo voters from the Tharu-Madhesi majority areas after influential leader of the region, Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar, joined the party. Although Gachhadar is contesting from Sunsari-3, he has good influence over the Tharu-Madhesi population in the region, whose votes would be decisive in five of the constituencies of the district.

Gachhadar used his influence to provide provincial election ticket to Bhakti Majhi in constituency 4 (a) and Chum Narayan Tawaldar in constituency 6 (a). Majhi is a former district chairman of Morang from the then party of Gachhadar while Tawaldar is a veteran leader of Gacchadar's former party.

Although Morang is considered as traditional stronghold of NC, the left alliance also has strong chances based on the results of the recently concluded local elections. In the local elections, NC had won in nine out of the total 17 local units, while UML claimed five while Maoist Center, Federal Socialist Forum Nepal and Nepal Loktantrik Forum won one unit each.

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