KOHALPUR/ DANG/ PYUTHAN, April 15: With the local level polls now just 32 days away, election fever has completely gripped the districts of Province 5, such as Banke, Dang, Pyuthan, and Nawalparasi, among others.
Observers and locals expect the districts of Province 5 to be tough battlegrounds in the elections slated for May 14. Intense infighting and lobbying to get candidacy for key positions has already begun in the major political parties.
Nepali Congress (NC), CPN (Maoist Centre) and the main opposition CPN-UML are preparing to field their candidates for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor of various municipalities in Banke district. Infighting to win candidacy is intense in these parties as youth leaders and older, more established ones, vie to win their parties' ticket for the election.
The competition for party tickets is high in Kohalpur Municipality of the district. Bhanu Bhakta Bhattarai, Balram Sharma, Rajendra Shrestha, Chintamani Dhital, Niraj Chalaune and Yuwaraj Paudel from NC are in the race to become the party's candidate for the post of mayor. From UML, Narendra Sharma, Lut Bahadur Rawat, Gopal Giri, Khil Prasad Bhusal, Karna Bahadur Thapa and Basanti Adhikari are vying with each other for the mayoral candidacy.
The aspiring and potential candidates have already begun their election promotion campaigns. The stiff infighting among the leaders has made it difficult for the big parties to pick official their candidates.
A similar atmosphere is seen in Pyuthan district as well. Parties and potential candidates have begun their election campaigns for the fast-approaching elections. Door-to-door campaigns are being organized almost on a daily basis. People have started gossiping about the possible candidates and the parties' agendas for the elections.
With the hope that local representation checks corruption and brings development, the people in the district are excited about casting their votes in the local polls which are being held after a long hiatus of about two decades. The district has nine local units - two municipalities and seven rural municipalities.
In Dang, another district of Province 5, a tough competition among the big three parties has already ensued. The big three will face a strong competition from each other in Lamahi Municipality of the district.
Six leaders from NC are vying to win the party's ticket for the post of mayor. Among them, Khum Bahadur Khadka is deemed as the winnable candidate.
Many local leaders are vying with each other to win candidacies from their respective parties in Nawalparasi district as well. While the big parties are in favor of holding the election, the Madhes-centric parties have continued to oppose it by conducting protests and obstructions in the district. They are of the opinion that the election should be conducted only after amending the constitution to make it acceptable to everyone.
Kapilvastu district, which was once a part of Province 4 but was later included in Province 5, is also getting ready for the elections. It has six municipalities and four rural municipalities and many political leaders are involved in lobbying and infighting to win the candidacy for the post of mayor and deputy mayor in the municipalities.