June 20, 2017 06:00 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, June 20: Unsettled by their dismal performance in the first phase local elections, the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Center) have strengthened their electoral ties to check the main opposition UML.
NC and CPN (Maoist Center), the largest and third largest parties respectively in parliament, have formed electoral alliances against the UML in more than a third of the 334 local units that are scheduled to go to polls on June 28.
In total, the NC has formed alliances in more than 70 local units, mostly with CPN (Maoist Center). The two parties have fielded mutually agreed candidates in Butwal, Argakhachi, Gulmi, Bhojpur and Terathum.
The NC has also worked out electoral alliances with other smaller parties including Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, Nepal Loktantrik Forum and regional parties.
Similarly, the CPN (Maoist Center), encouraged by the positive outcomes of electoral alliance, has given top priority to such alliances for the second phase local polls. The party worked out mutual agreements on candidates with other parties for more than 60 seats. CPN (Maoist Center) spokesperson Pampha Bhusal said there might be such alliances in additional local units as the polls inch closer.
The UML for its part has formed alliances in some local units including Biratnagar Metropolitan City.
It might be too early to say whether the alliances will work out, given what some say about “unnatural unity” among parties with differing ideologies. But if the alliances work out, it will not only check the UML's rise but prove rewarding for the NC and Maoist Center.
If the alliances fail to work out, it might backfire on the ruling parties and further propel UML's rise.
Both the UML and the ruling parties appear optimistic about the outcome of their decisions. UML leaders said the alliances will divide the voters and eventually benefit the UML.
“There must be something similar in terms of agenda and ideology to form alliances. Moreover, our party believes in programs and policies more than in alliances. UML is convinced that voters will support our programs,” said UML Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai.
He said the UML would perform even better this time.
The UML won seats in 125 local units in the first phase local polls while NC and the Maoist Center won 104 and 46 seats respectively. Poll outcomes for the first phase came as a major upset especially for the NC which had won 207 seats in the Constituent Assembly elections against UML's 181 .
Bhusal said that people will support the ruling parties as they have taken a more flexible stance on the constitution and other demands put forth by the marginalized and excluded communities.
“Our party has always championed the marginalized and excluded communities. Since we have forged alliances with likeminded forces, we are confident people will welcome such moves,” she said.