Is The ‘Sun’ Rising?
the CPN-UML that has emerged as the largest party from the local polls has experienced both tough and exciting moments as many individuals and parties have shown interest in using its poll symbol, the ‘sun’, in the upcoming federal elections. Despite its lackluster performance in the third phase of the local election in Province 2, it is still riding high. So the rebel leaders from the rival groups and those from the fringe parties have jumped onto the bandwagon.
It is quite interesting that a group of five Madhesi leaders that revolted against the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal inked a deal with the UML to contest the election with the ‘sun’ as their election symbol. This is a big gain for the UML as it has been projected as being an anti-Madhesi party. Former RJP-N stalwart Hridayesh Tripathy has formed an independent political association and decided to throw in their lot with the UML. This accord followed hard on the heels of the local polls in the hardcore Terai districts. These Madhesi politicos will test their political luck with the ‘sun’ symbol in Nawalparasi, Kapilvastu and Banke.
The U-turn of former prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has come as a surprise to many. His Naya Shakti Party-Nepal is part of a broader left alliance comprising the two big communist parties - the UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre. What is more intriguing is that Bhattarai is happy to fight the election using the ‘sun’ symbol. In their secret talks, UML chair KP Oli and MC chief Prachanda had an agreement to use the ‘sun’ as the common symbol of their unified party. But technical reasons hampered the MC candidates from using it in the coming polls. But, Bhattarai saw no hesitation in using it. There was a time when he derided the UML as having no clear gender identity. In an ironic twist of events, he has now forged his tryst with the ‘genderless’ UML.
Now the number of parties wanting to use the ‘sun’ has crossed half a dozen. The Saptari-based Mukti Party had struck a pact with the UML district committee, which will allow its chair Mohamed Ismael to use the ‘sun’ to stand in the poll from Constituency 4 in Saptari. Prior to this, Nepal Pariwar Dal chair Eknath Dhakal entered an agreement with Oli at the latter’s residence at Balkot to use the ‘sun’ symbol. Socialist Party chair Prem Bahadur Singh has already made up his mind to employ the poll symbol of his former party in the coming election. The Chure Bhawar Rastriya Party has decided to merge with the UML. This means the number of aspirants using the ‘sun’ symbol is on the rise.
Prima facie, the ever growing number of leaders and parties opting for the ‘sun’ symbol is heartening news for the UML. At the same time, this can also become a ball and chain around the neck of the largest left party. When the minnows and less popular candidates use the ‘sun’ symbol, it is likely that many UML heavyweights will be deprived of election tickets. The UML enjoys strong organisational networks with many bona fide contestants. The party may lose its electoral seats if it grants tickets to the neophytes in the name of spreading the heat of the ‘sun’ during the election.