UML-Maoist common candidates face challenges of rebels
The CPN-UML and the Maoist-Centre, as they had claimed, have fielded their common candidates for the upcoming first phase elections to the House of Representatives and provincial assemblies. The two parties had to exercise hard to select the candidates as per the agreement reached to divide the seats in the ratio of 60/40. They finally succeeded to settle the seats although in a few districts the official candidates of the alliance were challenged by the rebel candidates. Even as the top leaders of the left alliance have agreed to field common candidates for the upcoming federal and provincial assembly polls at the center, the local leaders of the constituent parties of the alliance have fielded candidates of their respective parties in various districts, like Mugu, Jajarkot and Ramechhap. The UML-led left alliance had agreed to field former home minister and Maoist Center leader Shakti Bahadur Basnet from Jajarkot for the federal parliament. However, UML candidate Gobinda Bikram Shah fielded his independent candidacy, protesting against the decision of top leaders to give their ‘secured' constituency to the Maoist Center. Shah had joined the UML after quitting the RPP with hope that he would get UML ticket for the federal parliament. Shah, who is said to possess good political clout in the district, fielded his independent candidacy after he was denied the ticket. Similarly, the CPN (Maoist Center) leaders have fielded their candidacy against the common candidates of left alliance in Ramechhap. Former lawmaker of the Maoist Center Laxmi Gurung fielded her candidacy for the federal parliament, breaching the agreement reached by her party with UML at the central level. Although the top leaders of the left alliance agreed to field UML candidates in Mugu district, local leaders of Maoist Center have not only announced their noncooperation with UML candidates, but also filed independent candidacies. Interestingly, disputes have surfaced even within the parties over the nomination of their own party candidates for the polls. The Maoist Center leader Tejendra Kham Magar rebelled against the party's official candidate Kamal Roka in Rukum-East. Similarly, the disgruntled Maoists have fielded rebel candidates even for the provincial assembly. Puni Raj Gharti filed independent candidacy against the Maoist Center's candidate Tej Bahadur Oli ‘Prateek” from Rukum East (a) for the provincial assembly poll. The filing of nominations of the common candidates of the two parties concluded peacefully in all 32 districts where the first phase elections to the House of Representatives and State Assemblies are taking place on November 26. Altogether 37 members of the House of Representatives and 74 members of provincial assemblies will be elected from the first phase of elections. The first phase of election will be held in Solukhumbu, Sankhuwasabha, Bhojpur, Okhaldhunga, Taplejung, Paachthar, Khotang, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Dhading, Sindhupalchowk, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Mustang, Myagdi, Baglung, Manang, Lamjung, Gorkha, Rukum (eastern part), Rolpa, Rukum (Western part), Jajarkot, Humla, Mugu, Jumla, Kalikot, Dolpa, Darchula, Bajhang, Bajura and Baitadi. The nominations for the December 7 elections shall take place for the remaining 45 districts on coming November 2.