Sunday, April 13, 2008

CPN Maoist Victory in Nepal

KATHMANDU: As the results of Thursday’s Constituent Assembly elections trickled in, it has become clear that Nepalis have voted for change, giving the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) an opportunity to lead the country.

Emerging trends show that the Maoist party has a very strong chance of becoming the largest party in the Assembly, and may possibly win a majority in the first-past-the-post system.

It appears that there is a groundswell of support for the Maoists across the country, except in the central tarai, where the Madhesi parties are doing better, according to initial vote counting.

Of the 49 results declared, the CPN (Maoist) won 30 seats, the Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist Leninist (UML) got nine, the Nepali Congress (NC) won seven, the Nepal Workers and Peasant Party (NWPP) won in two constituencies and the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum one.

Of about 100 constituencies, where counting is going on, the Maoists are leading in 60.

Almost all senior leaders of the CPN (Maoist) have won. Maoist chairman Prachanda won from Kathmandu-10, Babu Ram won from Gorkha-2, Minister for Information and Communications Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who is also the Maoist spokesperson, from Dang-3, Minister for Physical Works Hisila Yami from Kathmandu-7, and Ram Bahadur Thapa from Chitwan-2. Most of these leaders defeated their nearest rivals by a huge margin.

On the other hand, most of the senior leaders of the UML have been routed, and many senior leaders of the Nepali Congress are struggling in their constituencies.

UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal was defeated by Jhakku Prasad Subedi of the CPN (Maoist) in Kathmandu-2. Senior UML leaders Pradip Nepal, Bam Dev Gautam, Ishwor Pokharel and Raghu Panta have lost. The UML suffered the worst defeat in the Kathmandu Valley, its erstwhile stronghold — it lost in all the 15 constituencies. The Maoists won in 8, the NC in 5 and the Nepal Workers and Peasant Party in 2 constituencies in the valley.

During the last parliamentary elections, the UML won in 9 of the 12 constituencies there.

The Maoists have also made deep inroads into the traditional strong bases of the Nepali Congress such as Chitwan, Tanahu, Kailali, Kanchanpur and Bake districts.

“Mandate for peace”

Addressing a cheering crowd outside the City Hall, a counting centre, Mr. Prachanda said the Maoists’ victory was a mandate for lasting peace, implementation of the democratic republic and rapid economic development. He said his party would work along with the other major parties, including the NC and the UML, during the transition period.

It was committed to multiparty competition and would like to maintain good ties with India and China.

UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal and acting president of the NC Sushil Koirala have submitted their resignations from the party posts owning moral responsibility for their parties’ defeat.

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