SURKHET, Nov 20: Political parties in Surkhet have expedited their election campaigns with interesting agendas and this has heated up the election fervor in the district. The headquarters of Surkhet, the gateway to Province 6, is often considered as the capital of the province.
As most of the parties have fielded seasoned candidates for the parliamentary and provincial polls slated for December 7, a fierce battle has been anticipated in the district. In order to repeat their glory, four former ministers and a sitting minister are up for battle in the polls.
Former Home Minister and Nepali Congress (NC) leader Purna Bahadur Khadka, former minister for co-operatives and poverty alleviation Hridaya Ram Thani, current State Minister for Information and Communications Tapta Bahadur Bista, and CPN-UML politburo member and former minister Yam Lal Kandel are among the top leaders contesting the elections.
Even though, the NC has been successful in securing victory in the district in all of the previous elections except in 2008, it's not an easy task for the party to counter the recently forged left alliance. While NC is determined to protect its legacy, the left alliance is all set to make way for communists in the democratic stronghold.
In the parliamentary elections, NCs Khadka will be competing against left alliance candidate and CPN-UML's district chairperson Dhruba Kumar Shahi in constituency-1. This is the first time Shahi is vying for the parliamentary elections. Similarly, in constituency-2, NCs Thani will be competing against CPN-UMLs former district chairperson Nawaraj Rawat.
There are two constituencies and altogether 204,575 voters in the district. NC leader Purna Bahadur Khadka is among the few politicians who has been a part of all the parliamentary elections since 1991. He has never been defeated in Surkhet in any of the elections so far. Khadka has earned the reputation of an influential leader not only in the district but at the central level as well.
In the recently concluded local elections, NC became the first party in the district to win three local units followed by CPN-UML which won two. "We have moved forward looking at the result of the local elections and we are sure that our votes are not going anywhere," said left alliance candidate Shahi.
Likewise, the electoral battle between NC's Hridaya Ram Thani and CPN-UML's Yam Lal Kandel used to be a regular show in the parliamentary elections since 1994. They first faced off each other during the Free Student Union (FSU) elections of 1984 held at Shankar Dev Campus. However, they both will have new opponents this time as Thani will be competing for a parliamentary seat and Kandel for provincial assembly seat.
The left alliance candidate Nawaraj Rawat will be competing against Thani for the parliamentary polls. This is the fourth time that Rawat is competing in the polls to avenge his defeat. "I have been defeated several times with a small margin but I am hopeful that CPN (Maoist Center)'s support might help me win this time," said Rawat.
NCs District Vice Chairperson Tek Bahadur Singh has been fielded in constitueincy-1 (a) and CPN (Maoist-Center) has picked Thammar Bahadur Bista as his opponent.
Furthermore, in constituency 1 (b) NC's Jhak Bahadur Dangi will face left alliance candidate Khadka Bahadur Khatri. In constituency 2 (a), CPN-UML's politburo member Yam Lal Kandel is up for battle against NC's district chairperson Kamal Raj Regmi.
Likewise, nominations of constituency-2 (b) have also created a great stir in the district.
NC has fielded current Minster for Information and Communications Tapta Bahadur Bista against left alliance candidate and former battalion commander of CPN (Maoist Center) Bindaman Bista.