KATMANDU, Oct 17: Serious differences have emerged within the political parties over candidacy nominations under the Proportional Representation (PR) category. Many leaders of major political parties have expressed dissatisfaction with the party leadership over their not informing rival factions about candidates fielded under PR.
Rival leaders in the CPN-UML have accused UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli of not maintaining internal party balance and of prioritizing opportunists and controversial figures in candidacy selections.
Informed leaders in the party said dissatisfactions surfaced in the CPN-UML after Chairman Oli continued to defer a party meeting that was called to discuss finalizing the party's candidacies. The UML Standing Committee meeting was called for October 12 but the party chairman repeatedly deferred it until Sunday, the day fixed as nominations day by the Election Commission.
With the standing committee meeting called just ahead of the nominations, some leaders including UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, who heads a rival camp in the party, walked out after the party chairman disagreed over the candidacy selection process. Worried that the party establishment might undermine the strength of the Nepal faction, which is seen as a rival group in the party, leaders loyal to Nepal had been demanding finalization of the lists of leaders to be fielded under PR. But Chairman Oli continued to ignore the demands of the rival camp.
"When we repeatedly demanded a standing committee meeting to finalize the PR candidates, they [party leaders close to Oli] continued to procrastinate. They fielded candidates of their choice," said Ghanshyam Bhusal, deputy general secretary of the party.
Even senior UML leaders were left in the dark about the candidacies. Disgruntled leaders said that only those close to party Chairman Oli and General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel were named candidates under PR category. "Since we were not informed about the candidates fielded under PR, we have no idea about the candidates. But we will certainly make it an issue if controversial candidates have been named," said Bhusal.
Candidacy selections under PR category have become a matter of controversy in the party. In the 2013 Constituent Assembly election, the party had fielded Rajya Laxmi Golchha, sideling youth leader Ram Kumari Jhankri. Golcha was accused of getting a lawmaker position after providing a hefty amount to the party.
Nepali Congress (NC) is also not free of controversy in PR candidate selections. Dissatisfied NC leaders said leaders inducted into the candidacy selection board have prioritized their own people while submitting the closed lists.
"Previously, we used to discuss extensively the candidates to be fielded in the elections and the selection criteria. But the leaders did not hold consultations this time. We sense a monopoly of only a few leaders even though the names of candidates are yet to be disclosed," said NC leader Dhan Raj Gurung.
Maoist leader Top Bahadur Rayamajhi also admitted that differences are rife in the party although they tried their best to follow democratic norms in selecting candidates. "We are flexible on making changes if there are any mistakes in fielding candidacies," said Rayamajhi.
So far, the parties have not disclosed the lists of candidates fielded under PR. Party leaders say the candidacy nominations are likely to spark further controversy when the list details are disclosed.