CPN-Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda loves to be in the headlines time and again. It is not unnatural for the former commander of the Maoist insurgency and two-time prime minister to be so. After the lackluster performance in two phases of the local poll, Prachanda is struggling to revamp the party by bringing the jilted comrades back to the fold.
However, the Maoist supremo is himself facing a dilemma with regard to his electoral constituency. He has been flitting from one district to another to make his political fortune, but has finally announced that he would contest the federal election from Chitwan. There are several reasons behind choosing Chitwan as his new political bastion. During the first CA election, the country came in the grip of the Maoist wave. It exploited the anti-establishment sentiments to be the first party. And for Prachanda, it was a cakewalk. He pulled off a resounding victory from Rolpa and Kathmandu constituencies.
However, he could not sustain the people’s craze for and faith in the party of the former rebels. It suffered from several missteps, and Prachanda had to pay the price in the second CA poll. He tasted a humiliating defeat at the hands of a lowly NC leader in Kathmandu. In Siraha, his victory was a close run thing. It was also marred by controversy.
Like a scalded dog, he is unlikely to test his luck in Kathmandu again. Siraha is not safe for him either. He is still chided for his controversial victory in Siraha. This means he lacked strong support of the people there. Rolpa can be a safe bet for him. It was the so-called capital of the Maoist movement. Though the Maoist Centre’s organisational strength began to develop cracks in Rolpa, the Maoist heavyweights are still hopeful of securing a poll win as shown in the recent the local poll. But Prachanda will confront other problems if he decides to stand from there.
There are many ambitious Maoist aspirants hailing from Rolpa. Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Barsha Man Pun, Onsari Gharti Magar and Jayapuri Gharti are known faces of Rolpa. If Prachanda had decided to contest the election from Rolpa, it would have amounted to snatching their constituencies. The new electoral law does not allow a candidate to contest from more than one constituency.
These are the reasons why Prachanda finally decided to throw his lot in Chitwan, his home district, as his next poll constituency. His daughter, Renu Dahal, succeeded to win the mayoral post in Bharatpur Sub-Metropolis City during the first phase of the local poll. It was a Pyrrhic victory for her as it was very controversial, but for Prachanda it was rehearsal for the upcoming election. It is said that Prachanda poured billions of rupees from the state’s coffers in Bharatpur Municipality to tip the scale in favour of his daughter when he was in office as the PM. The media and rival parties often talk about pork-barrel projects operating in Chitwan apparently to strengthen Prachanda’s political base.
Plus, he is hopeful of getting support of the NC like the one extended to his party during the local poll. But critics have started mocking Prachanda as a tourist candidate as he moves from one constituency to another in a bid to ensure his victory in the upcoming federal election.