Kathmandu: Swarnim Wagle, the economist and former vice-chair of National Planning Commission, has won the election of House of Representatives from Tanahun-1 with a huge margin. In the by-election held on April 23, Wagle secured 34480 votes while his closest rival Govinda Bhattarai from Nepali Congress got 20092 votes.
Wagle, who was a member of Nepali Congress, quit the party he was affiliated with since the 1986 Satyagraha and 1990’s political movement on March 30 citing that he had been constantly humiliated and insulted by the leadership–Sher Bahadur Deuba and his spouse Arzu Rana Deuba. Right after quitting the party he joined Rastriya Swatantra Party led by Rabi Lamichhane and announced his candidacy for the by-election from Tanahu-1.
Tanahu-1 became a point of national attention after all the parties in the ruling alliance flexed their muscles to defeat Wagle, even by resorting to personal attacks and influencing the electorate through various inducements.
Wagle’s candidacy had been closely watched inside and outside the country as the parties in the ruling alliance–Nepali Congress, Maoist Center, CPN(Unified Socialist), Socialist Party of Nepal and other parties as well as main opposition CPN-UML–had thrown their weight against Wagle.
Key leaders from the ruling alliance, including Congress General Secretary duo Gagan Thapa and Bishwa Prakash Sharma, and top leaders including current and former prime ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Baburam Bhattarai and Madhav Kumar Nepal had canvassed for Congress candidate Govinda Bhattarai, even by promising ministerial berth to Bhattarai if the people of Tanahu-1 voted for him.
What appeared like a ganging up against a lone candidate had become a subject of criticism on social media.
While his opponents even resorted to personal attacks during the election campaign, Wagle maintained a composure and spoke of much needed reforms in economy and governance with the electorate.