Congress leaders in Bharatpur have cooled down, will those in Hetauda follow suit? – Rajesh Ghimire

Nepali Congress (NC) leaders in Chitwan had threatened to vote for CPN-UML candidate if the top leaders decide to again give mayoral candidate of Bharatpur Metropolitan City to CPN (Maoist Center).

Rajeshwore Khanal was elected president of Chitwan Congress on the agenda of getting to vote for NC candidate in the election, and got the district committee to decide that electoral alliance will start in the district only after NC gets mayoral candidate. Some local leaders even talked about rebellion if the central leadership disregarded their wish.

But NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba summoned Khanal and other local leaders to Baluwatar and convinced them that the ruling coalition will have to field Maoist candidate for Bharatpur mayor.

Khanal now says that the leaders have to obey party decision and even urged cadres to not oppose the coalition’s decision.

The grand old party faces similar situation even in the adjoining Makwanpur district. The coalition decided to field CPN (Unified Socialist) candidate for mayor in Hetauda Sub-metropolitan City.

But while leaders of Chitwan Congress seem to have cooled down, those in Makwanpur are still belligerent in protest against the coalition decision. The majority of office-bearers and a few former presidents of Makwanpur Congress have warned of rebellion if the decision were not reviewed.

Vice-president of Makwanpur Congress Ananda Kathayat told Setopati that the decision to award candidacy to Unified Socialist has been taken with utter disregard to the state of organization and strength of parties in the district.  “There is no possibility of the coalition winning if we go to the election with the decision that the coalition has taken. Awarding ticket to the party with no public support will have an impact on result,” he stated. “The candidate must be from NC if we want to defeat CPN-UML. The five-party coalition losing to a single party would be shameful.”

NC’s mayoral candidate in Hetauda had lost to UML’s Hari Bahadur Mahat by just 615 votes in the last local election even as 7,000 votes were invalid. The party’s local leaders are angry claiming that NC can win on its own after split of UML.

The biggest NC leaders from the district–Deputy General Secretary Dina Upadhyaya and President of Bagmati Congress Indra Baniya–both are from the Deuba faction. And the faction of Shekhar Koirala in the district blames the Deuba faction for the surrender.

Kathayat claims that NC will be better served if it were to contest on its own in all 10 local bodies in the district. “But they say coalition is necessary. This will harm the party,” he opined.  

Makwanpur Congress has written to the Bagmati Congress incorporating the grievances and remarks of party base. “The province will send that to the center. The decision can be reconsidered looking at that. The center’s decision cannot be violated even if that doesn’t happen,” President of Makwanpur Congress Buddha Lama told Setopati.

He stated that saying NC cannot help small parties in the election will be against the spirit of coalition as small parties have made NC president the country’s prime minister.

He added that the party is discussing with coalition partners to finalize sharing of tickets in other local bodies in the district up to the ward level. “Parties have their own claims in a few local bodies. But we will soon finalize this. We will not just finalize the sharing among the parties but even the candidates from the respective parties.”

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