DANG, April 17: Kamal Rokka, an exiled Nepali Congress leader of Rolpa's Thawang village, recently got a phone call from a political rival of his village which is popularly known as the bastion of Maoist insurgency. The caller was an influential left-wing leader of Thawang, who until recent was against holding the local elections. However, the call was to offer his support and express his interest in conducting the local polls in Thawang by setting aside their differences.
Thawang, a historically significant place of the country, has been boycotting elections for several years citing various reasons. It is the place where the decade-long Maoist revolution begun in 1996.
Despite bring changes throughout the country, the place itself has always been deprived of development and attention from the country's successive governments.
Rokka got the unexpected call from Thawang village, indicating rebellion from the local leaders against the edict of the communist party that holds sway in the region. The village leader expressed his interest to join the NC and involve the village in proper election for the first time. In the recent polls, election fever had hardly touched Thawang. But the invitation received from the village's influential leader suggests that things have changed for better now.
The village did not cast a single vote in the last election and always took a stance to boycott any form of election. But now, locals of the village are more excited about the elections than before.
“Election fever has gripped Thawang,” claimed Aramar Pun, president of Rolpa chapter of NC, who had reached the village a few days ago to hold district-level committee meeting. “Although few have taken stance to boycott elections, they are limited. Overall, many locals are eagerly waiting for elections in the village,” he added.
During previous elections, locals of Thawang had chosen to remain secluded. They even had protested against the elections in the past by displaying “Entry Prohibited” signboards. Their tone has softened now. They are now complaining that not enough political leaders are visiting them.
“The strong tone of discontent has almost faded now,” observed NC district leader Pun. The villagers, who previously used to forbid NC leaders, recently organized grand welcome to some leaders with fanfare and garlands.
Leaders of the main opposition CPN-UML also said they have already adapted strategies to win over strong support from the locals of Thawang. Hit Bahadur Rokka, chairman of UML's Thawang Rural Municipality, said, “Thawang has already changed its perspective toward the election. So we are actively working to develop our presence there.”
Thawang Rural Municipality is 103.6 km away from the district headquarters Libang. It can be reached in two days from the headquarters after crossing dozens of hills. At one point of time, the Maoists were synonymous to Thawang village as the place was a hotbed for the Maoist revolution, and helped the rebels to organize themselves.
The undeclared capital of Maoists is neither arable nor provides food security. They have a temporary building in the name of life-saving hospital. The hospital does not have even one operational phone and locals find modern development a distant dream.
As they are deprived of their rights for years, they have seen the upcoming election to make their voices heard. The neglected village has started understanding the importance of election. Due to this, they are letting go of their boycott policy and are looking for ways to bring election to the village.