DADELDHURA, Nov 10: Prime Minister and Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba, who has been winning parliamentary elections from his home electoral constituency, Dadeldhura, since 1991, faces a tough challenge to maintain his legacy this time. Reason: two communist parties - CPN (UML) and CPN (Maoist Center) - have forged an electoral alliance to counter the grand old NC, and unlike in the past, the Election Commission (EC) has barred candidates from contesting from two electoral constituencies.
Deuba's poll prospect has become the talk of the town in Dadeldhura. The left alliance comprising two major communist parties has fielded Maoist Center's Khagaraj Bhatta against Deuba. Until the parliamentary elections in 1999, Deuba did not feel any threat from the candidates of rival parties and contested only from his home constituency. When the then CPN (Maoist), which has been now branded as the CPN (Maoist Center), fielded its influential leader Bhatta against Deuba in the 2008 Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, Deuba contested the elections from Kanchanpur-4 as well. Like in the previous elections, Deuba was elected but the winning margin was very thin, compared to the previous elections - just 1,368 votes.
In the 2008 CA elections, Deuba emerged victorious securing 20,529 votes while his closest rival, Maoist leader Bhatta secured 19,161 votes. Similarly, UML candidate Bikram Bahadur Shahi secured 7,942 votes.
Fearing defeat, Deuba filed his candidacy from Kailai-4 and Dadeldhura in 2013 CA elections. UML's vote was almost intact even in the second CA elections but the Maoists could not do well. Thus, Deuba secured more votes in the 2013 CA elections than in the first CA elections.
In the 2013 CA elections, Deubad secured 23,920 votes while Bhatta got 12,493 votes. UML candidate Tara Prasad Joshi got 7,190 votes.
In the recent local polls in the district, NC secured victory in four local units, UML in two and Maoist Center in one. Despite failing to win the local elections, the left alliance secured 8,605 more popular votes than NC.
Congress supporters opine that Deuba is likely to win the elections due to his work, its impact and his personality. However, Bhatta's supporters opine that the changing voters' mindset and left alliance dynamics favor Bhatta this time. This time, a tougher competition is expected between Deuba and Bhatta.
Karna Bahadur Malla, president of Nepali Congress, Dadeldhura, opines that Deuba's efforts in developing infrastructures and services such as electricity, roads, drinking water, bridges, education, health and employment will help him win.
Likewise, the supporters of Bhatta say that the growing influence of the left alliance and internal rifts inside NC will help Bhatta. "People have their faith in me - the faith that I will be able to speed up development better than Deuba did in 28 years," Bhatta said. Initially, Bhatta was a member of NC. Influenced by his brother Jayaraj Bhatta, he joined the Maoists in 1991.