KATHMANDU, Nov 2: Although the political parties have been struggling to finalize the list of candidates for the second phase of parliamentary and provincial polls on December 7, major political parties have almost finalized the constituencies of their top leadership a day before the date of nomination.
Most of the senior leaders of major political parties seem to be in safe zone as they are set to compete with low-profile contenders as both the alliances are reluctant to contest top leaders against each other.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who is also the president of Nepali Congress (NC), is contesting election from his home district Dadeldhura, where the left alliance has decided to field CPN (Maoist Center) leader Khagraj Bhatta for the third consecutive election against Deuba.
NC senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel contesting from Tanahau-1 has never been defeated from the district since 1990’s parliamentary polls, where the left alliance has decided to contest Kishan Shrestha of CPN-UML. Influential NC leader Krishna Sitaula will face locally popular leader of Rastriya Prajatantra Party Rajendra Lingden in Jhapa-3. After the left alliance decided to support Lingden, Sitaula is expected to face tough competition in his home district.
Another influential leader of the NC, Bimalendra Nidhi, is contesting from Dhanusha-3, where he will have to go through tough competition if the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal decided to contest Rajendra Mahato from the same constituency. Despite request from the NC, Mahato has been insisting to run against Nidhi in the religious city.
NC General Secretary Shashanka Koirala is set to contest from Nawalpur (Nawalparasi)-1 for the third consecutive election. Maoist Center is contesting Bhabishwor Parajuli against Koirala in the district.
CPN-UML chairman KP Oli is contesting from Jhapa-5, where he will face former lawmaker Bishowdip Lingden of NC. Former Maoist lawmaker Lingden had entered NC on Tuesday, after the party assured him of ticket. CPN-UML Vice Chairman Bamdev Gautam will face Irrigation Minister Sanjay Gautam as his contender.
UML senior leader Madhav Nepal is contesting from Kathmandu-2, where he had been elected in the last election as well. NC is yet to finalize Nepal’s rival candidate in the area. Former UML Chairman Jhalnath Khanal is contesting from Ilam-1, where NC has decided to field Bhupendra Kattel.
UML General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel is facing NC’s former foreign minister Prakash Sharan Mahat in Kathmandu-5. This election will be a litmus test for Pokhrel to uplift his political career as he had been defeated from the same constituency in the past two polls.
Popular UML leader and former general administration minister Lal Babu Pandit will face NC’s Shekhar Koirala in Morang-6.
CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is contesting from Chitawan-2 against Forest and Land Conservation Minister of Rastriya Prajanatra Party Democratic Bikram Pandey.
Maoist leaders Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Agni Sapkota, Dev Gurung, Barshaman Pun and Shakti Basnet will be facing with high profile contenders. Shrestha will face former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai in Gorkha-2, where the latter was elected in the last two successive polls with popular votes from Maoist party. Now, Shrestha has been facing the breakaway leader of Maoist in his home district.
Former information and communications minister Sapkota is running against incumbent information and communications minister of NC Mohan Basnet in Sindhupalchowk-1. Gurung will face NC’s Dil Bahadur Gharti in Lamjung. Shakti Basnet is contesting against NC leader Rajib Bikram Shah in Jajarkot.