Leadership’s decision to field Sthapit was a mistake: Yogesh Bhattarai

CPN-UML leader Yogesh Bhattarai said it was a mistake by the party’s leadership to believe in Keshav Sthapit and field him as the candidate for Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s mayor.

“When the party leadership decided to field him as the mayoral candidate, maybe they thought he would perform a miracle,” Bhattarai said in a conversation with Setopati. “He also expressed confidence regarding the same. So they thought the Keshav Staphit card would probably work as he had done miracles in the past as well. But sometimes even the leadership can be wrong.”

Despite Sthapit’s tall claims of winning a landslide independent candidate Balen Shah continues to lead the race for the mayor with an ever-widening gulf between him and his closest rivals – Sthapit and Nepali Congress candidate Sirjana Singh.

Bhattarai said the dissatisfaction expressed by voters in urban areas including Kathmandu with political parties’ candidates should serve as a wake-up call for the parties.

“The amount of votes Balen Shah has been getting is unexpected for us. If it is viewed as the voters’ discontent with the political parties, then we can see where the big political parties went wrong and what corrections they need to make,” said Bhattarai. “We should especially look into why the intellectual middle-class voters in urban areas are disillusioned with political parties and their candidates.”

He said the five-party ruling alliance is one of the major reasons why UML has not been able to win in as many places as expected.

“UML’s chief competitor is Nepali Congress. Both these parties are neck and neck,” said Bhattarai. “Whichever side either of these parties chooses to join forces with, the election results will be in their favor. When that happens, it will be difficult for the other party.”

He pointed at discontent within the party as another factor behind the party’s poorer–than-expected performance.

“There were complaints of lack of transparency during ticket distribution, deserving candidates not getting tickets, and tickets being distributed based on whether someone was in the good books of the party leadership,” said Bhattarai. “Therefore, the party was not as united as it should have been.”

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