KATHMANDU, Sept 24: The ruling Nepali Congress is leading the Province 2 elections, winning more number of seats than any other party so far but the party still appears to be short of the required number to lead the district coordination committee on its own.
The NC has registered victory in 33 out of 110 local units where vote counting has concluded as of Saturday. The third phase of local elections held on September 18 will elect a total of 6,627 local representatives in 136 local units of eight districts of Province 2.
The NC is leading in eight other remaining local units.
Unlike in the first two phases of elections, Province 2 is headed for a mixed outcome with division of votes between the national and regional parties.
As of Saturday, FSFN has won 21 seats, while the CPN (Maoist Center) and RJPN have registered victory in 19 and 18 local units respectively. UML, which had dominated the first two phases of local polls, is poised to be the fifth largest party in the province.
Poll outcome shows that the NC has done well in both urban and rural areas of Province 2. The party is neck to neck with Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) in Birgunj Metropolitan City.
Though the NC has lost some votes compared to the 2013 Constituent Assembly elections, the NC will still remain kingmaker in the only plain province with control over 30 percent local units.
It is significant since Province 2 is the only province where it has been successful to retain its influence in the civic polls. But the party was reduced to second position in other six provinces that went to polls on May 14 and June 14.
NC, the largest party in the parliament, has been historically strong in Province 2 along with Province 1, 3 and 7.
The results have come as a big relief for the two Madhes-based parties which were looking toward Province 2 for political survival after dismal results in the western region. Madhesi leaders said that the regional parties are in position to lead the district coordination committee.
Madhesi leaders said that the regional parties would be able to form provincial government if the voters renewed support in the upcoming elections. The country is scheduled to go to provincial and parliamentary polls on November 26 and December 7.
They argued that the regional parties will do far better in the upcoming election as the constitutional amendment and other political agendas will take center stage.
"Madhes-based parties could not translate the immense goodwill that voters have on them due to host of factors including candidate selection. There is overwhelming support for Madhesi parties on the ground. We could be much better if we select good candidates and campaign accordingly," said FSFN Chairman Upendra Yadav.
The Madhes-based parties have been the biggest gainer while the main opposition UML has been seen as the biggest loser from this election. So far, the party has won 13 seats and is leading in five units. The party was not able to do well in core Madhesi constituencies largely due to its rigid stance against constitution amendment and derogatory remarks of its central leaders against the popular uprising in Madhes.
Interestingly, UML was not able to do as expected in local units alongside the East-West Highway, the areas dominated by voters of hilly origin. Maoist Center has produced better results in those areas believed to be UML's bastion.