DHANKUTA, Nov 7: The upcoming first phase of parliamentary and provincial elections slated for November 26 has gripped Sankhuwasabha district as well. As the day nears, the district with a total of 105,085 voters is keenly anticipating who would win the election battles and what would the future representatives have in store for them.
Just like in other places across the country, the main contenders for the electoral seats are the democratic alliance led by Nepali Congress and the left alliance comprising of CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center). Both the alliances are being aggressive in election campaigns, making up for strong contest.
The district sits in the lap of Mt Makalu and is rich in natural resources. It has only one parliamentary constituency. In the elections, the political parties have fielded both the familiar and new faces.
The left alliance has fielded UML leader Rajendra Gautam in the parliamentary elections. He is a local of Chainpur Rural Municipality and is in the advisory council of UML. However, he hasn't held any vital political post so far.
Gautam's main opponent is Deepak Khadka of NC, a veteran politician who has already become a parliamentarian in the previous elections. He was given the position of state minister for irrigation in the government led by Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
Khadka had faced his opponent Guatam also in the Constitution Assembly (CA) election of 2013 from constituency-2. At that time, Khadka had emerged victorious with a vote difference of 370. The win was taken keenly as that happened to be the first time Congress broke the communists' hold in the district.
This contest will be the second meeting between the two leaders. This battle is being observed with keen interest not only on the local level but across the nation.
Both the candidates claim that their victory is secured. UML candidate Gautam said they are honest in implementation of rules and projects, due to which support of voters would be in his favor.
According to District Election Office, Sankhuwasabha, Bharat Rai from Rastriya Janamukti Party, Bhawani Prasad Rai from Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, Lalit Gurung from Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, Gopal Raj Paudel from Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Nationalist), Farendra Sharma from Naya Shakti, among others have registered their candidacies for the parliamentary elections.
However, their election prospects have been dwarfed by the contest between the left and democratic alliances.
The main challenge for both the alliances has been the intra-party rift. The disgruntled cadres and some leaders within the parties have been expressing their disappointment in election ticket distribution and other issues. Such disappointments have led to rebellion within the parties. It has also led to a situation in which one faction of a party has not been helping the other faction of the same party.
The contest is also intense in the provincial elections of the district. The left alliance has fielded Maoist Center leader Purna Prasad Rai in Sankhuwasabha 1 (a). He is up against NC's Tanka Rai. Both of them are former parliamentarians.
Likewise, the left alliance has fielded UML leader Tulsi Prasad Neupane in Sankhuwasabha 1 (b). He is a former District Development Committee president. NC's youth leader Deepak Limbu is contesting against him.