Election Watch

Taplejung: Former allies are now competitors

Published On: November 9, 2022 12:15 PM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, Nov 9: CPN-UML Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai is a candidate for the House of Representatives from Taplejung for the second time. Khel Prasad Budhakshetri, the candidate of the CPN (Maoist Center) who had helped him earlier, has become a big challenge for him. In the last parliamentary election, there was a left alliance of UML and Maoist Centre.

In the House of Representatives (HoR) election of 2074 BS, Bhattarai, the candidate of the Left Alliance won by securing 29,479 votes, while Keshav Prasad Dahal of the Nepali Congress (NC), the nearest rival, had received 16,888 votes. This time the situation has changed. Bhattarai is contesting against Budhakshetri, the candidate of the ruling alliance with NC and the Maoist Center.

As the effect of the UML split was also seen in Taplejung, it is being assessed that Bhattarai will be challenged by Budhakshetri of the ruling coalition. Bhattarai is going door to door campaign with the confidence of winning the election due to the party organization and his popularity in the district. "Based on the work I have done in the past, people in Taplejung are sending me to the House of Representatives again by voting as they did in 2074 BS," Bhattarai told Republica. "I was with the people here yesterday, I am with them today and I will be with them tomorrow. There is a public audit of all the work I have done. Anyone can see it.”

Budhakshetri of the Maoist Center, who became a candidate from the ruling coalition, also claimed that he will win the election. "I believe that people will help me win this time," he further said.

Based on the votes received by the parties in the local elections held on May 13, UML is seen as the largest force in Taplejung. Out of 61 wards of Taplejung, UML won in 29 wards, NC in 16, Maoist Center 10, CPN (United Socialists) in 2 and independent candidates secured victory in four wards. In the local level elections of 2074 BS, the UML had secured victory in five rural municipalities including one city. But in the local level election held in May this year, the UML had to settle for three municipalities. This has made the ruling coalition party somewhat enthusiastic.

In the last local level election, out of the nine local levels of the district, the alliance had won six seats. This is the basis of the victory of the power coalition in the provincial and representative assembly elections. Budhakshetri, the candidate of the ruling coalition, has been campaigning accusing UML's Bhattarai of being a 'seasonal candidate'. Bhattarai has refuted Budhakshetri's allegations by issuing a statement.

In Taplejung, the candidates of Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), Federal Democratic National Forum, Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) Nepal, Rastriya Janamukti Party, Mongolian National Organization, Loktantrik Samajwadi Party, Jana Samajwadi Party Nepal are also in the fray. Similarly, there are two independent candidates. However, voters say that the competition in the election will be between Bhattarai of UML and Budhakshetri of the Maoist Center from the ruling coalition.

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