JHAPA, Dec 15: Krishna Prasad Sitaula had transformed himself into an influential leader of the Nepali Congress (NC) through election victories in Jhapa. The recently concluded parliamentary election, however, has become a bitter experience for him as he lost the election. To add insult to injury, Sitaula has been blamed for the loss of other NC candidates in the district.
That could be one of the reasons why he rushed to return to the capital Kathmandu immediately after his defeat. Other losing NC candidates, on the other hand, are consoling party cadres for the loss and expressing gratitude to the voters in the district. In Sitaula's absence, NC leaders and cadres are publicly expressing anger against him in Jhapa.
“The opposition UML and Maoist Center leaders pressurized Sitaula to contest the elections saying they would help him. Likewise, some cadres of NC also urged Situala to contest the elections in the hope that he would help cover some of their expenses,” said an official of Jhapa chapter of NC. “He failed to analyze the situation and created problems.”
Constituency no. 1 of the district is upset with Sitaula the most. NC cadres have blamed Sitaula for the defeat of Bishwa Prakash Sharma, saying he played a big role in the defeat.
“Sitaula's arrogance is the main reason behind our defeat in Jhapa,” said Rupsagar Adhikari, NC's regional co-secretary of Jhapa-1, expressing ire in social media Facebook. “Had he stayed under proportional representation category and had we formed an electoral alliance with Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), the result would have been different.”
Not just the cadres, few candidates of his party have also vented their anger against Sitaula. Leaders and cadres point out Sitaula's role in constituency border delineation for the downfall. “We had expected to win in constituencies 1 and 3. But our hopes were crushed after Sitaula intervened in border delineation, which worked against us,” said a NC candidate who was defeated in the provincial elections.
According to the candidate, Sitaula took off the wards where NC is weak from his constituency. The gerrymandering only worked in the favor of the left alliance comprising UML and the CPN (Maoist Center).
Sitaula is blamed for not only the mistake in constituency border delineation but also for breaking the electoral alliance with RPP. NC had forged an alliance with RPP across the country and had decided to give constituency-3 to RPP and field Sitaula from constituency-1 instead.
However, just a day ahead of the candidate registration, Sitaula used his influence to convince the party that he would contest from constituency-3. While the NC broke its alliance with RPP in constituency-3, the major opposition UML forged an alliance with Maoist Center.
Critics said Situala created the exact situation that UML chairman KP Oli wanted. “It would have been tough for Oli in Jhapa-5, had the NC-RPP alliance been intact,” said Pushpa Acharya, a cadre of NC, “The party would have been stronger with the support from RPP. But Sitaula's arrogance ruined everything.”