KATHMANDU, Nov 2: With the by-elections slated for November 30 approaching fast, the major political parties are busy in closed-door discussions to finalizing their candidates for the 52 seats at stake at the central, provincial and local government levels.
Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the main opposition Nepali Congress are under pressure to finalize their candidates as the Election Commission has set November 7 as candidate nomination day for the parliamentary and provincial assembly by-polls. Nominations for the local-level bodies have been set for November 13.
The parties are primarily focused on Pokhara, Dang, Baglung and Bhaktapur, where four seats – one for parliament and three for the provincial assemblies – are lying vacant following the deaths of the incumbents.
A parliamentary seat fell vacant in Kaski after then tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari was killed in a helicopter crash in Taplejung in February. Adhikari was the MP from Kaski-2.
Provincial assembly seats are vacant in Dang and Bhaktapur following the deaths of lawmakers Uttar Kumar Oli and Harisharan Lamichhane.
A provincial assembly seat from Baglung is also lying vacant. Tek Bahadur Gharti of Rastriya Janamorcha was elected from Baglung 2 (B). He subsequently died while receiving treatment in India for jaundice.
Adhikari, Oli and Lamichhane were elected on NCP tickets under first-past-the-post. Oli died in a road accident whereas Lamichhane died of brain hemorrhage.
As the ruling party’s performance in governance has come in for much flak, its top leaders are worried over prospects in the key by-elections.
Both parties are going to great lengths to get their candidate selections right.
The NCP has called a secretariat meeting for Saturday. Most of its lower-level committees have already submitted their names of prospective candidates to party headquarters.
The NCP had asked the lower committees to recommend at least three candidates for each vacant seat.
The party secretariat will make the final picks on the basis of these recommendations and the popularity of the prospective candidates in their respective locality.
A central working committee meeting of the NC held on Friday has authorized the party’s office bearers to select the party’s candidates. The CWC meeting decided to field Tilak Rai as mayoral candidate in Dharan Sub-metropolitan City.
Similarly, a municipal committee meeting of the NCP on Friday recommended Prakash Rai, Benu Kaphle and Phokwahang Subba as mayoral candidates for the sub-metropolitan city.
The position of mayor fell vacant after the incumbent, Tara Subba, died in July 2018 while receiving treatment in Kathmandu for pneumonia.
A meeting of the NCP Kaski District Committee has recommended Bidhya Bhattarai, widow of
Rabindra Adhikari, as candidate for parliament from Kaski- 2. Both the ruling and main opposition parties have taken winning the Kaski by-election as a matter of prestige.
The late Adhikari had won the constituency three times.
Likewise, Churna Bahadur Oli, Bimala Oli and Shobha Ram Basnet have been recommended as prospective candidates for provincial assembly seats from Dang 3 (B). Bimala is Uttar Kumar Oli’s widow.
A provincial committee meeting of the NCP has recommended Ramesh Budhathoki, DP Dhakal, Mohanbir Shrestha and Narayani Phuyal as prospective candidates from Bhaktapur 1(B).