MOHOTTARI, Nov 30: The poll prospect in constituency-3 of Mahottari district has become more intriguing after the top leader of Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), Mahantha Thakur, fielded his candidacy for the upcoming parliamentary polls at the eleventh hour.
Although many initially predicted that Thakur, who is a common candidate of Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) and RJPN, could easily secure victory with the backing of-of Nepali Congress (NC), the locals later suggested that the challenges posed by independent candidate and former lawmaker Chandeshwar Jha and the candidacy of Bijaya Chaudhary of the left alliance cannot be undermined.
The RJPN has a stronghold in the constituency that includes Jaleshwar and Matihani municipalities and Ekdara and Pipara rural municipalities. RJPN candidates had made a clean sweep of all posts in all of the four local units in the recently held local level polls.
Locals, however, say the election environment in the constituency that has 78,904 registered voters is no longer the same. The votes cast during the local level polls influenced by four main factors. Caste-based votes, votes based on the influence of individual candidates, partisan votes and Madhesi sentiment had played a crucial role in electing members of RJPN during the local polls.
Shambhu Thakur, a local of Jaleshwar who is a teacher by profession, says it is very difficult to point out any particular candidate as a strong contender in this election as the election environment has changed. No candidate has ever secured two consecutive victories from the constituency that includes district the headquarters Jaleshwar.
Thakur argues that it is still difficult to say in whose favor the swinging votes of Jaleshwar will go to during the upcoming parliamentary and provincial assembly polls.
Chandeshwar Jha, who has now filed independent candidacy from this constituency, was initially hopeful of getting a ticket from RJPN. He had joined RJPN only a few months ago after getting assurance from the RJPN top leadership about his candidacy. But as the RJPN coordinator Thakur himself decided to contest the election at the eleventh hour, Jha decided to file independent candidacy as a rebel candidate of RJPN.
Jha, who was elected from constituency-4 of Sarlahi as an independent candidate during the second Constituent Assembly polls held in 2013, is hopeful of securing second consecutive win by defeating RJPN stalwart Thakur.
RJPN leaders said they had tried to persuade Jha to withdraw his candidacy with various promises. But he did not budge from his stance.
Party insiders say Mahantha Thakur faces challenges not only from Jha but also from Chaudhary, who is a common candidate of the left alliance.