KATHMANDU, Oct 29: When the Nepali Congress (NC) picked senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel as the party’s official candidate for the federal parliament polls from Tanahun-1, hundreds of leaders and cadres in his home district took to the street demanding a rethink of the decision. The biggest opposition came from another powerful NC leader Govinda Raj Joshi, one of the several aspirants for the ticket. Joshi and his aides have warned to boycott Poudel if he doesn’t give up his claim on the seat.
On the contrary, there was an eerie silence on the ground when CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal declared his candidacy from Chitwan-3 as the unanimous candidate of the left alliance. The silence was so discomforting that Dahal, who is contesting from the same constituency where his daughter was elected mayor, openly expressed fears of possible backstabbing by UML rank and file on the ground.
It was a reason why UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli had to set a meeting between Dahal and Devi Gyawali, who lost Bharatpur Metropolis elections to Dahal’s daughter Renu Dahal. Though Gyawali’s assurance of full support gave some hopes, Dahal is still worried about a possible betrayal by UML cadres on the ground.
Candidate selection has never been an easy job but the major political parties are facing extra trouble in finalizing their candidates for the federal and provincial assembly elections slated for November 26 and December 7. Though the major parties somehow managed to contain the anger over candidate selection for the first phase of elections, candidate selection for the second phase of elections has triggered widespread protest in all parties.
The sheer number of ticket aspirants has made it impossible for the parties to pick candidate based on consensus. District chapters of each party, irrespective of their size, have recommended a minimum of five names for each of the 165 seats of federal parliament and 330 seats of provincial assemblies.
With multiple candidates vying for tickets, the parties are not in a position to choose candidates without hurting other aspirants. Leaders said the discord emerging from candidate selection could lead to rise in proxy candidates and possible backstabbing during the polls.
“That is definitely a concern for us as we are jointly contesting the elections. But we are hoping the anger to evaporate with time,” CPN (Maoist Center) leader Pampha Bhusal said. Leaders said that there is bigger anger among regional and district leaders whose dream of ticket was cut short by the entry of influential second-rung leaders in provincial assemblies.
NC and UML, which suffered defeats in multiple seats due to internal betrayal during the local polls, are putting extra effort to resolve the matter amicably. NC has been selecting candidates after due consultation with leaders of all factions. The party has already decided where to field top leaders.
The party has decided to field Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba from Dadeldhura-1; Ram Chandra Paudel from Tanahun 1; Shashanka Koirala from Nawalpur-1; Prakash Man Singh from Kathmandu 1; Gopal Man Shrestha from Syangja-2; Bimalendra Nidhi from Dhanusha-3; Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar from Sunsari-3; Purna Bahadur Khadka from Surkhet-1; Mahesh Acharya from Morang-4; Gyanendra Bahadur Karki from Sunsari-4; and Ramesh Rijal from Parsa-4. Similarly, the parties have also assigned seats for the second-rung leaders.
NC leader Poudel said that there are some issues over the candidate selection but stressed that the differences would be resolved before the elections.
Top leaders of the UML and Maoist Center have been holding marathon meetings to finalize their candidates. Though the two parties have already decided where to field the top guns, there are still some differences over some seats claimed by influential leaders from both parties. Parties’ struggle with ticket distribution has left top leaders with little time for election campaign and rallies.