November 15, 2017 06:30 AM NPT
By: Ashok Dahal
KATHMANDU, Nov 15: Nepali Congress leader Arzu Rana Deuba decided to buy a house in Kailali after her rival candidates in Kailali-5 accused her of being a tourist candidate in the district.
A permanent resident of Kathmandu, Deuba is contesting direct elections for the first time after being elected to parliament twice before under the Proportional Representation (PR) system.
Deuba is not alone in facing the charge of being a tourist candidate in the upcoming parliamentary and provincial assembly polls. Candidates including political party top guns are facing the same criticism after changing their constituencies for the upcoming parliamentary polls.
The tourist candidate tag is not new in elections. After facing this accusation, former prime minister and UML leader Jhalnath Khanal had announced he was building a house in Sarlahi district at the time of the 2013 Constituent Assembly (CA) elections. For this purpose, a local UML cadre gifted him a plot of land just before the polls. But this ploy didn't help Khanal and he lost in the new constituency. However, he emerged victorious in his home district of Ilam. He was contesting two constituencies simultaneously. This is no longer allowed by the law.
Mahantha Thakur and Rajendra Mahato, two presidium members of the Rastriya Janata Party (RJPN), are also contesting from new constituencies. After losing the polls from their home districts in the last CA elections, Thakur has decided to contest from Mahottari-3 and Mahato from Dhanusha-3.
Thakur's decision has prompted a rebellion by candidates from his own party, while Mahato finds himself facing NC senior leader Bimalendra Nidhi in his new constituency. Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) Chairman Upendra Yadav has filed candidacy from Saptari, changing from his two-time constituency of Sunsari-5. After his rivals accused him of being another tourist candidate, Yadav made his citizenship card public last week as proof that he was born in Saptari.
Maoist Center leader Surendra Karki has been facing criticisms from his rival Biswa Prakash Sharma of NC of being a tourist candidate in Jhapa-1. Okhaldhunga-born and brought up in Sindhuli, Karki was defeated in Taplejung in the 2008 CA election.
Born in Tehrathum and a permanent resident of Kathmandu, UML leader Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal is also facing the tourist candidate tag, in Morang-3. But UML supporters have been pushing back, accusing his rival Sunil Sharma of NC of also being from another constituency.
Also, Rolpa-born Jhakku Subedi is contesting from Kathmandu-6, after facing defeat in Kathmandu-2 in the last election. But Subedi had emerged victorious from Kathmandu in the first CA election in 2008.
Khotang-born and brought up in Udaypur, FSFN senior leader Ashok Rai is likewise being seen as a tourist candidate in Sunsari-1. Finance Minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki of NC, Bhojpur-born and resident in Kathmandu, is being similarly criticized by his rivals in Sunsari-4.
Maoist senior leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara is contesting from Dang-2, where he was elected in the 2013 polls. He also is being called a tourist candidate, from Rolpa.
Permanent resident of Kathmandu-2 Daman Nath Dhungana is contesting the polls from Bhaktapur-2. After running into the tourist candidate change, he furnished clarifications to voters through the media last week pointing out that he has a long-standing political attachment to Bhaktapur.
The three major candidates in Kathmandu-1 have also not been spared. NC candidate Prakash Man Singh is a permanent resident of Kathmandu-6, Bibeksheel Sajha candidate Rabindra Mishra is resident of Kathmandu-3 and Maoist candidate Anil Sharma is from Rukum. But NC's Singh was elected from the same constituency twice before.
Most of the tourist candidates in the 2013 Constituent Assembly (CA) polls were defeated in their new constituencies. Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and then NC president Sushil Koirala became exceptions after they won from Siraha and Chitwan respectively.
Maoist candidate Baburam Bhattarai faced a humiliating defeat in Rupendehi-4, but he owns with a wide margin in his home district of Gorkha. Another Maoist leader, Barshaman Pun, lost from Morang-9, Gopal Kirati from Jhapa-7, and most of the other Maoist leaders contesting from new constituencies failed to make it to parliament.