GORKHA, Oct 27: Gorkha district has become a battleground for senior leaders of major parties in the upcoming federal parliament elections. While the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) Chief Whip Chin Kaji Shrestha is contesting the parliamentary polls from constituency 1 of the district, the leftist alliance consisting mainly of the CPN-UML and the Maoist Center has fielded Maoist Center Area 4 in-charge Hari Adhikari as candidate in the same constituency.
Local political leaders said that the competition between Shrestha, who is also backed by Naya Shakti Nepal, and Adhikari will be interesting to watch as the total votes secured by these two alliances in the recent local election was almost equal.
Similarly, Gorkha constituency 2 is also witnessing tough battle between senior Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Naya Shakti Nepal coordinator Baburam Bhattarai, who chose to sever ties with the Maoist Center immediately after the promulgation of the new constitution.
Interesting competition for provincial assembly as well
Political speculation in all four provincial assembly constituencies is rife although not to the extent as over the parliamentary elections. The provincial elections is also set to witness a fierce battle as electoral alliance has been forged between NC and the Naya Shakti Nepal and the UML and the Maoist Center.
In Constituency 1a, NC regional president Dhiran Thapa is contesting from the NC-led alliance while the left alliance has fielded Maoist Center district president Lekh Bahadur Thapa Magar. This constituency covers the area from ward 1 to 7 of Gorkha municipality, Martyr Lakhan and Gandaki rural municipalities.
While the Maoist Center bagged victory in Martyr Lakhan Rural Municipality, NC had secured victory in the Gorkha municipality and Gandaki rural municipality in the recently local level election. Although NC-Naya Shakti alliance appears strong in the Gorkha municipality areas, the leftist alliance is strong in Martyr Lakhan Thapa Rural Municipality. It is likely that the margin of victory is going to be very small no matter who wins the elections.
Similarly in Gorkha 1b, the NC-led alliance has fielded NC Mahasamiti member and youth leader Rajendra Bajagain and the leftist alliance has fielded UML central member Ram Sharan Basnet. This constituency includes Dharche, Chuamubri, Aarughat, and Bhimsen municipalities. As NC had secured victory in all these rural municipalities, the leftist alliance appears short of over 1,000 votes to defeat the NC-Naya Shakti alliance, if the votes cast during the recent local election are any guide.
The UML is also relatively strong in Aarughat, Keraunja, and Kashigaun areas. Since the UML had won some of the wards in these rural municipalities, local level leaders said they can easily win here if they are able to persuade neutral voters. Youth leader Bajgain, however, argues that he will easily win as his party has strong organizational base and he personally knows the local geography and the needs of the local people. Many people here expect an all-out fight between Bajgain and Basnet as the latter hails from Gorkha 1a.
In Gorkha 2 a, NC-led alliance has fielded Hari Sharan Acharya of Naya Shakti Nepal, while the leftist alliance has Maoist Center leader Kamala Naharki as provincial assembly candidates. Both Acharya and Naharki were underground during the Maoist insurgency. While Acharya was put in jail three times, Naharki had broken jail.
This constituency covers ward number 8 to 14 of Gorkha Municipality and Palungtar Municipality. While NC candidate was elected mayor of Palungtar, a Maoist Center candidate won the deputy mayor of the municipality. Naya Shakti party leaders claimed that Palungtar is the base area of Baburam Bhattarai therefore their candidate is sure to win the polls. However, Naharki expressed confidence about winning the constituency.
In Gorkha 2 b, Pakash Duwadi is contesting from NC-led alliance and the Maoist Center has fielded its central member Amar Tamu from the left alliance. While NC had won in Ajirkot and Siranchowk rural municipalities, the Maoist Center had won Sulikot rural municipality. The NC-led alliance has 500 votes less than that of the leftist alliance.
Two candidates withdraw
Federal Socialist Forum Nepal's Sukadev Tamang has withdrawn his candidacy for federal parliament from constituency 2 and pledging support to Naya Shakti Nepal candidate Baburam Bhattarai. Similarly, RPP (Demcratic) provincial candidate for 2 b Rudra Raj Pandey has also withdrawn to support Naya Shakti Party candidate Acharya.