POKHARA, Dec 15: Nepali Congress (NC) heavyweights who contested the parliamentary and provincial elections from Province 4, including the party's senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel, faced humiliating defeats.
Senior leader Paudel, who was also considered one of the prime ministerial candidates of the party, failed to maintain his legacy this time. Paudel who had been winning elections since 1991, was defeated by lesser known UML candidate Krishna Kumar Shrestha this time.
Paudel's electoral constituency, Tanahu-1, was considered as a strong bastion of the Congress party and candidates from the party were winning the elections for long. Many had predicted that the Paudel would get elected from this constituency in the parliamentary elections. But that did not happen.
Like Tanahu, Syangja was also a stronghold of the Congress party. The party, however, failed to win even a single seat from the district in the recently held elections. Deputy Prime Minister and NC senior leader Gopal Man Shrestha was defeated by UML's Padma Kumari Aryal with a huge margin in Syangja-2. For local party cadres, Shrestha's defeat in Syangjya-2 is a humiliation.
Parbat was another stronghold of NC and its leader Arjun Joshi had won three elections since 1999. Joshi, however, could not secure victory against left alliance candidate, Padam Giri this time.
In the 2013 Constituent Assembly elections, NC had won two seats of the total four seats while UML shared the remaining seats. This time electoral constituencies were reduced to three and there were altogether nine constituencies - three seats for parliamentary elections and six for provincial assembly - but the Congress party was able to win in only one seat of the provincial assembly. The left alliance comprising two major communist parties - CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) - won all the remaining seats in the district.
UML had never won elections in Manang. NC used to always win elections in Manang. UML had won elections of 1991 and 2008 in Mustang. Apart from these two elections, Congress had won all elections in Mustang. UML set the record in these mountainous districts by winning most of the seats. Except for a seat of provincial assembly, the UML won all the seats in these two districts.
Out of 18 parliamentary and 36 provincial assembly constituencies in Province 4, NC could win only one parliamentary and six provincial assembly seats.
Kapilmani Dahal, a professor at Prithivi Narayan Campus, said NC was defeated in its own strongholds such as Tanahu, Syangja, Parbat, Manag and Mustang. Other districts of the province, Lamjung and Kaski were also taken as NC's strongholds in the past. This time, however, the party could not secure victory in any electoral constituency other than in Nawalparasi (east).
“Shashank Koirala was successful in winning elections from Nawalparasi. For Congress, this is the only exception in Province 4,” said Professoer Dahal, adding, “Voters favored him for his family dynasty, clean and controversy-free image.”
Analyst Dahal believes Paudel was defeated due to the internal feud in the party. “Non-cooperation from Govinda Raj Joshi is the major reason behind Paudel's defeat,” he said.
Paudel was criticized for not developing his electoral constituency despite getting elected from there in all parliamentary elections since the restoration of democracy in 1990. “Voters cannot be happy just because of his clean image. They had expected development,” said Dahal, “But he failed to deliver development. Consequently, he was defeated this time.”
Another analyst Surendra Thapa Magar points out NC's internal feud as the major reason behind the party's defeat in Province 4. “Congress could bag some seats if it had timely managed factional disputes in the districts,” said Thapa.