Unpredictable Tharu voters likely to decide poll outcome in Dang
BISHWAMANI POKHAREL/DEVENDRA BASNET
DANG, Nov 11: Nepali Congress and the UCPN (Maoist) are considered frontrunners in Dang district for the Constituent Assembly (CA) election slated for November 19.
Nevertheless, the CPN-UML also claims it is in a neck-to-neck competition.
But, any prediction at this point could been misleading as the Tharu community, which comprises half the population of the district, is hard to predict.
Any estimation at this time might fall flat as the Tharu voters, considered decisive in election outcome, in constituencies- 3, 4 and 5, are yet to make up their mind. However, the Tharu voters in constituencies 1 and 2 are found to be politically divided.
The constituencies- 1 and 4 are grabbing all the attention.
NC has fielded Parbati DC Chaudhari from constituency-1 from where Lila Ram Khanal has also filed candidacy as a rebel candidate.
Rumors have it that NC leader Khum Bahadur Khadka, who once dominated Dang district politics, has been tacitly supporting Khanal.
The constituency-4 is in the debate due to the ego clash between two UML party secretaries - Shakar Pokarel and Yubaraj Gyawali. Pokharel, who was fielded under the proportional representation system in the last CA election, is now first-past-the-post candidate while Gyawali , who was FPTP candidate in the last CA, is now PR candidate. Gyawali"s supporters allege that Pokharel had betrayed him in the last CA, resulting in party"s loss.
NC candidate Budhi Raj Bhandari and Maoist candidate Ramji Chaudhary are expected to give a tough competition to Pokharel.
In constituency-1, the UML has once again fielded Rewati Raman Sharma who had garnered 4,692 votes and stood in the third position in the last election. Maoist candidate Indra Jeet Tharu was elected with 18,093 votes.
Now Indra Jeet has joined the CPN-Maoist after the party split and is active in poll boycotting campaign. People believe that NC rebel candidate Khanal would only benefit the UCPN (Maosit).
“If NC voters remain divided, it will directly benefit the Maoist candidate. Otherwise, NC is likely to emerge victorious,” said Gaga Ram Bhattarai, Chief of Dang Red Cross society.
On the other hand, Yogendra Tharu, who recently entered Madhesi People"s Right Forum Democratic (MPRF-D), claimed that his party would win constituency-1 as Tharu and Madhesi communities would vote for a Tharuhat province.
UML Secretary Pokharel claimed that his party"s victory is secured from constituency-2. However, people expect a cut-throat competition between NC"s Sushila Chaudhary and UML"s Shanta Chaudhary.
The Tharu voters, which comprise a third of total voters in constituency-2, are the decisive factor, according to the locals.
UML"s Laxman Aryal, NC"s Raju Khanal, and UCPN (Maoist)"s Nirmal Acharya are in the fray in constituency-3, from which UML leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara was elected garnering around 20 thousand votes in the last CA election.
The locals in constituency-5 are of the view that there will be a tripartite competition among the NC, UML and Maoist candidates. The constituency, which also has a considerable number of the Tharu voters, was bagged by the Maoists in the last election as its candidate Sushma Sharma secured 17,061 votes.
This time, the UCPN (Maoist) has fielded Dhiraj Serpali from the constituency while Uttam Kumar Wali is UML"s candidate. NC candidate Dipak Giri is also re-running from the same constituency.