How will the Nepali Congress-led alliance fare in the metropolitan cities? 

Nepali Congress has declared electoral alliance with Maoist Center, CPN (Unified Socialist) and Janata Samajbadi Party for the upcoming local elections. How will they fare in six metropolitans?

Nishan Khatiwada

  • Read Time 5 min.

Kathmandu: Despite strong opposition from some prominent party leaders, Nepali Congress (NC) on Tuesday decided to form an alliance with Maoist Center, CPN (Unified Socialist) and Janata Samajbadi Party for the upcoming local elections based on necessities and situations on the ground.

By keeping the condition of ‘based on necessities and situations’ Nepali Congress has kept the alliance prospects open. That means it is yet to be confirmed in which municipalities, rural municipalities, sub-metropolitan cities and metropolitans will the electoral alliance be actually formed. 

Moreover, on Thursday, the ruling coalition officially decided to form electoral alliances based on a ‘modality’ to be prepared after monitoring the conditions on the ground. A committee comprising three levels will be formed for the purpose. 

But calculations are being made about the potential winners, and also the losers. Continuity or discontinuity of the alliance in the local polls and afterward is going to have a significant impact on the outcomes of provincial and federal parliament elections as well. 

Meanwhile, all eyes are on the possible outcomes in metropolitan cities of the country. 

Out of total 753 local governments, six are the metropolitans: Kathmandu, Pokhara, Biratnagar, Chitwan, Birgunj, and Lalitpur. Considered the supreme local units, the local election fever is most apparent in the metropolitans. 

In the 2017 local elections, two Mayors and five deputy mayors were elected from Nepali Congress, two mayors and a deputy mayor from CPN-UML, and a mayor each from the CPN-Maoist center and Janata Samajbadi Party Nepal (JSPN). But in five years, Nepali political landscape has changed with a lot of ups and downs.

So who will emerge victorious in these metropolitan cities? Here are some possible scenarios. 

Prospects in Kathmandu 

In the 2017 local elections, Bidya Sundar Shakya from CPN-UML had bagged the mayor’s post in Kathmandu with 64,913 votes in hand while his closest competitor had garnered 45,269 votes. Similarly, Bibeksheel Nepali’s Ranju Darshana and Bibeksheel Sajha’s Kishor Thapa had gotten 23,439 and 18,496 votes respectively. Sarwottam Dangol from CPN-Maoist Center had garnered 7,906 votes.

CPN (Unified Socialist) is staking a claim in Kathmandu this time. However, even the formation of an electoral alliance will not guarantee victory for the CPN-US or even the NC. CPN-UML had won the earlier election with a margin of around twenty thousand votes. Given this, Kathmandu may witness a neck and neck competition in the upcoming elections. Also, no other party of the current coalition had won a major share of votes in 2017. 

Furthermore, Bibeksheel Sajha Nepal is a divided house. It may not be able to retain the number of votes it had secured back in 2017. Bibeksheel can hope for a better outcome only if it can secure the votes garnered by both Darshana and Thapa in the earlier election into its fold. 

For the deputy mayor’s post, Hari Prabha Khadgi from NC had won with 58,952 votes against 34,854 votes of RPP’s Rajaram Shrestha supported by CPN-UML. So there is a higher chance that NC will prevail in the deputy mayor’s post with or without the alliance.  

UML’s test in Pokhara

In the 2017 local elections, Man Bahadur GC from CPN-UML had won the mayor’s post with 60,118 votes against 46,416 votes of his rival Ramji Kunwar from NC. CPN-Maoist had supported NC in the mayor’s election. The vote margin of CPN UML and NC was 13,702. A higher chance for CPN UML’s triumph could be predicted in this metropolitan as there was a significant votes margin against the team of the NC and Maoists. However, that also, in some way, depends on the intensity of the effects of the split in the CPN-UML. 

Similarly, current deputy mayor Manju Gurung from CPN-UML had won with 56,448 votes while her closest rival Saraswati Gurung from NC had garnered 44,338 votes. We can expect tough competition as NC had garnered the votes independently and the formation of an electoral alliance this time may help the party win. 

NC’s chance in Biratnagar 

In the previous local election, Bhim Parajuli from NC had won the mayor’s post garnering 23,031 votes while his closest rival Binod Prasad Dhakal from CPN-UML got 17,321 votes. If this difference remains intact, there is a higher chance for NC to win the mayor’s post with or without the alliance in the upcoming elections. 

Similarly, Indira Karki from NC won the deputy mayor’s post with 20,146 votes against 11,524 votes of Namita Neupane from the CPN-Maoist Center. So, NC may prevail in the deputy mayor with or without the alliance. Suchi Chaudhari from Nepal Loktantrik Forum supported by CPN-UML came third with 10,536 votes. 

Tough race in Lalitpur

Chiri Babu Maharjan from NC had garnered 24,642 votes to win for the mayor in 2017 elections against 24,316 votes garnered by Hari Krishna Byanjankar from CPN-UML. The vote margin was only 326 votes. CPN-Maoist came third with 10,661 votes. So, forming an alliance will provide NC with a victory and if it competes without an alliance, the result will depend on the intensity of the effect of the split in the CPN-UML. Yet the competition will be tough. For CPN-UML, Lalitpur is going to be a tough battle this time. 

In the post of the deputy mayor, Gita Satyal from NC garnered 19,819 votes to bag a win against her close rival from Sajha Party Shova Shakya who garnered 14,240 votes. CPN-UML had supported RPP in the election. The candidates for deputy mayor from RPP Babu Kaji Thapa garnered 10,547 votes. So, there is a higher chance of victory for the Nepali Congress with or without an alliance. 

Alliance in Bharatpur

In the Bharatpur metropolitan city, CPN-Maoist Center and Nepali Congress had formed an alliance in the earlier election. Renu Dahal from CPN-Maoist Center had won the mayor’s post with 43,127 votes while her closest rival CPN-UML’s Devi Prasad Gyawali had garnered 42,924 votes. The competition was tough with only a slim margin of votes between the winner and the loser. 

As the number of votes of Renu Dahal was the sum of the votes from NC and the CPN-Maoist Center, only a proper electoral alliance is going to give competition to the CPN-UML. If the ruling coalition does not continue, there is a chance for the CPN-UML to win as Maoist Center alone will not be able to win the election in the city. 

For the deputy mayor’s post, Parvati Shah from NC had gotten 47,197 votes while her closest rival from CPN-UML Divya Sharma garnered 39,525 votes. Whether or not the electoral alliance is formed between the current ruling parties, the competition is going to be tough in Bharatpur. 

Case of Birgunj

In the 2017 elections, Vijay Sarawagi from the then Sanghiya Democratic Forum had won the mayor’s post with 19,393 votes against 19,197 votes garnered by Ajaya Dwivedi from Nepali Congress. Sarawagi has now joined the CPN-UML. Nepali Congress also has a stronghold in the region and the entry of Sarawagi into the CPN-UML will impact the JSPN. LSP, the breakaway faction of JSPN is also in competition in some way but the votes will be divided. 

Shanti Karki from NC had won the deputy mayor’s post with 19,607 votes against the 18,530 votes of Pinky Yadav from Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum. The then Rastriya Janata Party candidate had garnered 10,663 votes. JSPN and LSP both will try to form an alliance with Nepali Congress for the election to secure their hold in Birgunj. If they vie independently, there might be tough competition between JSPN, LSP and NC. 

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