Rakesh Kumar Mishra
BANKE, Dec 3: With the second phase of the House of Representatives and State Assembly elections just three days away, Banke district, the main trading hub of the western Nepal, is agog with election activities.
A two-way competition is predicted in Banke district constituency number 1 and 2 while a three-way contest is expected in constituency-3. However, the election race in constituency-2 is going to be the most watched one. The Nepalgunj Sub-metropolitan City lies in this constituency.
Banke constituency-2 is the constituency in which the former Prime Minister late Sushil Koirala of the Nepali Congress (NC) had been continuously contesting the general elections since 1991. But this time around, the Nepali Congress has, for the first time, not fielded its candidacy from this constituency. The NC is supporting the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP)’s candidate Om Prakash Ajad, the common candidate of the Democratic Alliance which the NC heads.
The CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Center) is supporting Pashupati Dayal Mishra, a candidate from the Independent Political Group, who is contesting the election with the ‘sun’ as his election symbol.
Mohammad Ishtiyak Rai of the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) and Bijaya Kumar Gupta of the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) are also in the election fray. It is reckoned that the regional parties will give a tough fight to the Democratic Alliance’s common candidate and to Mishra.
In Banke constituency-1, the Democratic Alliance has fielded Madhav Ram Khatri of the Nepali Congress while the Leftist Alliance has fielded Maheshwar Jung Gahatraj of the Maoist Center. The Nepali Congress has won from this constituency two times whereas the RPP, Maoist Center and the UML one time each since 1991.
Banke constituency-2 is the largest constituency in the district in terms of geography and population. The Kohalpur municipality and the Rapti Sonari and Narainapur rural municipalities lie in this constituency. In the local level elections, UML candidate won the mayor’s post of Kohalpur municipality with the Nepali Congress candidate being elected as the deputy mayor post. The Nepali Congress candidates were elected to the post of chairperson and deputy chairperson of the Rapti Sonari rural municipality while the candidates of the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal won both the posts of chairperson and deputy chairperson of the Narainapur rural municipality in the local elections.
The election to the member of the State Assembly in the two sub-constituencies of this constituency is also going to be mainly a two-way fight between the Democratic Alliance and the Leftist Alliance. Krishna KC Namuna of the Maoist Center is contesting for the State Assembly member election from constituency (A) as the common candidate of the Leftist Alliance while Sarad Chandra Barma of the Nepali Congress is the Democratic Alliance’s common candidate.
Nepali Congress’ Narayan Prasad Gaudel is contesting for the State Assembly member election from constituency (B) as the Democratic Alliance common candidate and he will face a tough challenge from UML’s Aarati Poudel from the Leftist Alliance.
In Banke constituency-3, a mainly two-way contest is predicted between former lawmaker Badshah Kurmi who is contesting the House of Representatives election from the Democratic Alliance and UML’s senior leader Nanda Lal Rokaya who is the common candidate of the Leftist Alliance. The UML emerged victorious in all the three local levels in this constituency in the local level elections.
The State Assembly election in both the sub-constituencies in this constituency is also going to be basically a two-way contest between the Democratic Alliance and the Leftist Alliance candidates.
Candidates of both alliances are canvassing vigorously for votes with their own strategies to woo the voters in this constituency, a majority of who are said to be the so-called ‘swing voters’.