KATHMANDU, Oct 26: Khanda Lama Gurung, the main opposition CPN-UML's Manang (B) candidate for provincial assembly elections, has withdrawn her candidacy, paving the way for an independent candidate Rajiv Gurung better known as Deepak Manange to become sole candidate from the left alliance.
With Khanda Lama Gurung out of the race, Manang B looks set for a two-sided battle between Manange and Nepali Congress candidate Karma Gurung, said Deepak Dhakal, chief election officer of Manang.
UML has already announced its support for Manange's candidacy.
"Manange is the party's candidate now. He will get full support of the party," said Polden Choppang Gurung, Manang district chairman of the UML.
He said that Khanda withdrew from the race upon the party's suggestion.
"Manange and Khanda are cousins. We felt it inappropriate to allow them to compete. That's why we suggested her to withdraw her candidacy," said Chairman Gurung.
Informed leaders said that Manange fielded himself as independent candidate after the UML leadership assured him of the party's eventual support. It was the reason why UML fielded Khanda, a little known candidate, sidelining several powerful candidates.
"The party was neither in position to ditch Manange nor irk the public. So it took a long journey to legitimize Manange without angering the public," said a leader.
Manange said that Khanda's decision has strengthened his prospects.
"In Manang, family ties are considered more important than party politics. Whoever has a big family wins the election," said Manange.
Manange's entry in competitive politics and UML's efforts to legitimize him is likely to pave the way for more gangsters to hop into politics. Nearly a dozen individuals with criminal backgrounds are in queue for party tickets for the provincial and parliamentary elections slated for November 26 and December 7.
Major parties, which used to reward businessmen with seats in parliament for their financial contributions to the parties, now appear tempted to bring in gangsters in the party in anticipation of the money and muscle they can bring into play in the elections.