ITAHARI, Nov 21: With the parliamentary and provincial elections just around the corner, election fervor has gone up drastically in Sunsari district. Some of the 'heavyweight' leaders who can make an impact in the central level politics are contesting from the district.
Many of the candidates contesting the elections from Sunsari have already held ministerial portfolios in the government. This is why the contests in Sunsari have managed to generate keen interest and anticipations across the country.
The election in the district is being held on December 7 in the second phase. While senior leaders of the democratic and left alliances are contesting to maintain their legacy, new candidates are challenging the leaders' legacy in an attempt to create a breakthrough in their political career.
Itahari and Dharan are some of the important cities of Sunsari that hold great significance not only in the district but in the whole Province-1. The democratic alliance led by the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) is up against the left alliance, comprising of the country's two major communist forces - CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center).
While the NC is determined to reclaim its lost ground in the district, the left alliance is working hard to maintain its stronghold here. Even the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) is headed for fierce election campaign with hope of some victories.
Almost all the candidates contesting in the elections have promised to work for developing infrastructure as well as in the education, health, agriculture and tourism sectors. They have also pledged to provide relief to the flood victims.
The district has four constituencies. In constituency-1, FSFN senior leader Ashok Rai, in collaboration with NC, is challenging the left alliance candidate Jaya Kumar Rai of UML. Ashok is a former UML leader who has already taken up ministerial role. He was considered a highly influential leader while he was with UML. Jaya Kumar is currently a district committee member of UML and joint in-charge of Dharan Sub-metropolis.
In the provincial level elections, the left alliance has fielded Pradeep Bhandari, who will be contesting against NC's Kishor Rai of the democratic alliance in constituency 1 (a).
Likewise, the leftist force has fielded UML leader Bhim Acharya against NC's Budhi Katuwal in constituency 1 (b). Acharya is a central level secretary of the party and is looking to score a 'hat-trick' by winning this election. He had won the first and second constituent assembly elections from constituency-6. On the other hand, Katuwal is looking to advance his political career by securing victory over established leader Acharya.
In constituency-2, NC has fielded Sitaram Mehata for parliamentary elections against the left alliance candidate Dambar Subedi. FSFN candidate Tej Narayan Chaudhary is also contesting from the same constituency.
Sarvadhoj Sawa of UML and Hemkarna Paudel of NC are contesting in constituency 2 (a) while UML's Ram Prasad Mehata and NC district president Rajiv Koirala are confronting each other in constituency 2 (b) for the provincial assembly seats.
Likewise, heavyweight leader Bijay Kumar Gachhadar is contesting the parliamentary elections from constituency-3 representing the democratic alliance. UML's alternate central committee member and former minister Bhagwati Chaudhary is up against him.
In the provincial level, the left alliance has fielded Lilam Basnet and Ramdev Yadav in 3 (a) and 3 (b) respectively. NC has fielded Kumar Thapa and Agam Lal Chaudhary in the two constituencies respectively.
Constituency-4 of the district also has interesting contests. NC candidate and Finance Minister Gyanendra Karki is contesting against Ramesh Shrestha in the parliamentary elections. Late NC leader Girija Prasad Koirala had won many elections from this constituency.
Likewise, the left alliance has fielded UML leader Jagdish Kusiyat in 4 (a). He is contesting the provincial elections against Rewati Raman Dulal of NC and Hari Govinda Yadav of FSFN.
In constituency 4 (b), the left alliance has fielded Maoist Center leader Jakir Hussain, while the NC has given ticket to Mohammad Tahir Miya. Manoj Kumar Yadav is representing the FSFN.