POKHARA, Nov 17: With the arrival of winter, the temperature of the mountainous district of Mustang is decreasing day by day. However, the fever of the upcoming parliamentary and provincial assembly elections has heated up the atmosphere. There is only one constituency in the district. So, both left alliance comprising CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) and Nepali Congress (NC) are leaving no stones unturned to grab victory in the district.
For the parliamentary elections, the left alliance has fielded CPN-UML's Prem Prasad Tulachan while Nepali Congress (NC) has fielded Romi Gauchan Thakali. Similarly, for the provincial elections, the left alliance has picked CPN-UML's Indradhara Bista in constituency (a) and Mahendra Bahadur Thakali of the same party in constituency (b). Meanwhile, NC has fielded Mikyur Gurung in constituency (a) and Chhiring Dhawa Gurung in constituency (b).
Despite forging an alliance with CPN-UML, CPN (Maoist Center) did not get even a single seat in Mustang. For decades, Mustang has been known as a traditional stronghold of NC but the recently forged alliance has made it challenging for the party to protect its legacy. On the other side, CPN-UML's major motive is to make way for communists in the district by defeating their main opponent. NC has bagged several astonishing victories in the elections of 1994, 1999, 2013. However, CPN-UML had won the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections of 2008 in the district.
According to the locals, it is challenging for NC to protect its legacy but it's not going to be an easy task for CPN-UML either to beat the ruling party in the district.
In the CA elections of 2013, Prem Tulachan who stood as NC's rebel candidate against the current candidate of the party Romi Gauchan Thakali is now the official candidate of CPN-UML. At that time, Tulachan was defeated by a margin of just 12 votes. Tulachan made a decision to join the UML just three months before due to growing dissatisfaction with his former party.
Though it is hard to tell which party will win and which will lose in the parliamentary elections in Mustang, CPN-UML candidate Indradhara Bista is already claiming his victory. "There was a time when NC had a strong grip in Mustang but the time has changed as CPN-UML has mustered enough strength to challenge NC's monopoly," said Bista. According to him, UML has emerged as new powerful force with a large number of cadres and leaders entering the party.
In their election manifestoes, all the candidates have shared their agendas to develop Mustang as the new tourism hub of the country. "We will be making efforts to increase the stay of tourists in the district by introducing some new sites," said CPN-UML candidate Tulachan.
In his poll campaigns, NC's candidate Thakali is assuring the locals of the fourth victory for his party in the district. "All my contributions and sacrifices will be playing a vital role in ensuring my victory," he claimed. He further stated that his opponent who recently entered the CPN-UML leaving NC has no experience to hold the position. Like other candidates, he has also prioritized tourism but is also focused on making electricity available in all parts of the district.