Rise of rebels, fall of ‘yes-men’

General secretaries of CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist lost the elections while the general secretaries duo of Nepali Congress won the race. Here is a brief commentary.

Dhan Bahadur Khadka

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Kathmandu: Out of the total 165 constituencies, election results of nearly half of the constituencies under First-Past-the-Post (FTTP) polls of Nepal’s federal parliament elections have been declared while vote counting is underway in the remaining constituencies.

The initial results have clearly indicated that Nepali people stood for change, in many ways. Some election results have given a clear “message” to heavyweights of major political parties.

Voters, in many constituencies, have crossed the party legacy and influence.

Nepali voters have always given “surprising” verdicts during elections after the restoration of democracy in 1990. The pattern found continuity this time as well. 

Though the top leaders of almost all political parties secured their victory as they contested from the “pocket area” of their parties, interestingly, their ‘yes-men’, despite being powerful in party politics, have lost the elections. 

Rise of rebels in Congress  

In the Nepali Congress, where several of the members have expressed dissatisfaction with the conduct of party president Sher Bahadur Deuba, leaders critical of Deuba have emerged victorious.  Examples are the General Secretary duo Gagan Thapa and Bishwa Prakash Sharma.  Both Thapa and Sharma had challenged the leadership of Deuba in the party’s General Convention and won the general assembly elections from the rival camp led by Dr Shekhar Koirala. 

Gagan Thapa, who secured a landslide victory from Kathmandu-4, has announced to contest the parliamentary party election, challenging Deuba.  Sharma has announced that he would propose Thapa as a parliamentary party leader. “I will be proposing Thapa first as the parliamentary leader and then as the country’s prime minister,” Sharma has said.

Both Thapa and Sharma won the elections by drubbing their nearest rivals by a wide margin. While Thapa defeated CPN-UML’s Rajan Bhattarai with over 7000 votes, Sharma defeated UML’s Agni Kharel in Jhapa-1 by securing over 14,000 votes.

‘Yes men’ lose in UML and Maoist Center

Leaders who served as the general secretaries in CPN-UML and Maoist Center have lost the elections. UML General Secretary Shankar Pokhrel, who was also the Chief Minister of Lumbini province, lost the election. Maoist Center’s Rekha Sharma won from his constituency. 

Pokhrel’s defeat is an unexpected outcome for the UML, given that he was the leader credited for shifting the provincial capital of Lumbini to Dang.  Besides, Rekha Sharma got the election ticket after Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who was considered to be a more influential leader, decided not to contest the polls. Pokhrel’s defeat is a setback for UML chief KP Sharma Oli as well for Oli had projected Pokhrel as his successor in the party, while relegating Bishnu Paudel, who was the General Secretary when UML-Maoist Center was together as Nepal Communist Party, to the status of deputy.

Pokhrel’s role was conspicuous for blindly supporting every move of Oli. Pokhrel’s defeat can be taken as the voters teaching him a lesson for this.

Maoist Center and its chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal have suffered a serious setback in this election. Dev Gurung, Dahal’s ‘yes man’ and therefore the General Secretary of the party, has lost the election. Gurung had risen to the post of General Secretary by sidelining Barshaman Pun and Janardan Sharma, two other influential leaders of the party. Gurung lost the election to Prithvi Subba Gurung in Lamjung.     

Likewise, most heavyweights like deputy-general secretary Jibanram Shrestha,  and secretaries like Jagannath Khatiwada and Ram Kumari Jhakri from CPN(Unified Socialist) have also suffered a defeat in this election.