DHANGADHI, July 1: The ruling Nepali Congress has been defeated in the district headquarters of Dadeldhura, the home district of NC President and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, in the second phase of local level elections.
CPN UML's mayoral candidate for Amargadhi Municipality, Bisheshwor Ojha, who secured 3,765 votes, defeated Nepali Congress' Dilli Joshi who got only 3,460 votes.
Similarly, CPN UML's deputy mayor candidate Sangita Bhandari won with 3,517 votes, beating her closest rival NC candidate Parvati Jhukal who got 3,269 votes.
Amargadhi Municipality is considered a stronghold of NC. The discontent in the party has been blamed for the defeat.
Professor Suresh Joshi, who is informed about the internal dynamics of the party, said a section of NC activists did not support the party's official candidate, expressing dissatisfaction with the interference made by NC President Deuba while selecting the party's poll candidates.
“Amargadhi is seen as a stronghold of Nepali Congress. The main reason behind the party's defeat here is the internal dispute in the party,” said Joshi, “The disputes in the party have cost it dearly.”
According to Joshi, a section of NC activists had cast invalid votes or left the voting space empty. “Around 150 ballot papers for mayor and deputy mayor were found blank,” said Joshi, adding that one of the two factions of the party in Dadeldhura is determined to weaken Deuba.
Although Prime Minister Deuba had stayed in Dadeldhura for five days to resolve the party's internal disputes in the district, he had failed to do so.
Deuba's spouse Arju had backed Raghubar Bhatta as the party's district president. But Karna Malla, who is known as a Deuba faction leader, filed his candidacy for the post of district president and won in the elections as the party's district president even as Deuba and Arzu supported Bhatta.
Since then, there is a serious dispute between the factions led by Bhatta and Malla. The dispute soured further after Deuba interfered in the recommendation made by the party's district committee and nominated his loyal cadre as the party's poll candidate.
The first deputy director of FNCCI of Dadeldhura district Bhoj Raj Bhatta believes that the internal disputes in the party, with Arzu endorsing her favorite candidate without listening to locals was largely to be blamed for the defeat of NC.