KATHMANDU, May 17: Though the major political parties formed electoral alliance for mayoral and deputy mayoral races in metropolitan cities, the political calculations at the central level have failed to convince party members let alone attract neutral votes.
Ruling Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (Maoist Center) formed alliances in Bharatpur and Pokhara-Lekhnath metropolitan cities and Hetauda Sub-Metropolitan City for the mayoral and deputy mayoral races. In Bharatpur, NC was ready to vote for Maoist mayoral candidate Renu Dahal, the daughter of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. In return, the prime minister’s party supported NC mayoral candidate Ramjee Kuwar in Pokhara-Lekhnath.
Likewise, the CPN-UML and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) forged separate alliances in Kathmandu and Lalitpur metropolitan cities for the mayoral and deputy mayoral posts. As per their understanding, RPP supported UML’s mayoral candidate in Kathmandu and Lalitpur and UML reciprocated with support for RPP’s deputy mayoral candidates in the same two cities.
Initial results of the vote count for all four metropolitan cities, however, indicate that most cadres of these political parties as well as other voters rejected the politics of alliance between political parties with contradictory political ideologies.
The results for Bharatpur Metropolitan City have been keenly watched not only in Chitwan district but across the country because of the much talked-about deal between NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba and Prime Minister Dahal. Irrespective of NC’s stronghold in Chitwan and despite strong objections from the party’s district body, Deuba issued a strict circular to NC members to vote for the prime minister’s daughter.
The NC-Maoist alliance notwithstanding, the CPN-UML candidate was leading the count by around 2,000 votes as of Wednesday night.
But NC’s deputy mayoral candidate Parbati Shah from the NC-Maoist alliance received more votes than mayoral candidate Renu Dahal in the same unit. Political analysts have interpreted the results as a rejection of the party leadership’s decision by the party rank and file.
Based on their electoral alliance, UML fielded its leaders as mayoral candidates in Kathmandu and Lalitpur while RPP contested for deputy mayors in the same metropolitan cities. However, RPP’s deputy mayoral candidate Rajaram Shrestha has received less than half the votes received by UML’s mayoral candidate Bidya Sundar Shakya in Kathmandu. Similarly, RPP’s deputy mayoral candidate in Lalitpur received far less than half the votes UML’s mayoral candidate garnered in the same city.
Interestingly, more than 7,000 votes have been cast for UML for deputy mayor in Lalitpur even though the party didn’t field any candidate for the post, as per the deal with RPP, whereas the deputy mayoral candidate from the UML-RPP alliance received just 4,600 votes as of Wednesday evening.
In both Kathmandu and Lalitpur, NC candidates are ahead of the deputy mayoral candidates of the UML-RPP alliance.
In Kathmandu and Lalitpur, many ballot papers have been found with votes for the election symbol of the CPN-UML for deputy mayors despite the absence of any candidates. Political analysts interpret this as UML voters’ rejection to the party’s political alliance with the royalist RPP.
In another case, UML candidate Man Bahadur GC has been leading NC candidate for mayor Ramjee Kunwar from the NC-Maoist Center alliance with a narrow margin in Pokhara-Lekhnath. Deputy mayoral candidate from NC Saraswati Gurung had declined to withdraw her candidacy, rejecting the party’s decision on alliance at the eleventh hour. But NC’s Gurung has so far received more votes than official alliance candidate Kuwar for mayor who is from the same party.
Various political parties have formed alliances with another party in 51 local units. But in most of these places, the alliances haven’t worked out as anticipated.
RPP Spokesperson Sushil Kumar Shrestha is for waiting for some more time before drawing any conclusions.