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Prachanda loses key election in Kathmandu

Prachanda loses key election in Kathmandu

Kathmandu: Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda, former prime minister and chairman of the once-powerful Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), has lost in the Himalayan nation's second Constituent Assembly polls, Nepal's Election Commission announced Thursday morning.

The result sent shock waves across the country as well as the international community who have been keenly following the elections.

Prachanda was defeated by a Nepali Congress (NC) candidate, a little known local activist named Rajan K.C., by a huge margin of around 8,000 votes in Kathmandu constituency No.10 .

Interestingly, in the 2008 Constituent Assembly elections, Prachanda defeated the same candidate by 11,000 votes, and later became the prime minister for nine months.

Prachanda, the key architect of Nepal's decade-long Maoist insurgency, is known inside and outside the country for his charismatic leadership, and dominated Nepali politics ever since he came overground in 2006.

Seen as sharp, articulate and a visionary man, Prachanda led the Maoists to a majority in the 2008 elections, baffling the country as well as the world.

Since then, he has been the key political actor of Nepal, grabbing many national and international headlines for his controversial statements and actions.

"This result shows that people were not happy with the agendas pushed by the Maoist party. People simply disagreed with some radical and progressive agendas that Maoists tried to inject," Hari Rokka - a close aide of Prachanda, former lawmaker from the Maoist party and a scholar of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi - told IANS.

Prachanda is also contesting from another constituency, Siraha-5, a district bordering India. The result of poll in that constituency is yet to come, but initial trends suggested that Prachanda might win from this constituency, which can be some consolation for him.

Kathmandu-10 was a matter of prestige for Prachanda due to various reasons, including the fact that it falls inside the country's capital which bears a lot of political significance.

This time, Prachanda could not even secure the second position.

According to the data provided by the Election Commission to IANS, Rajan K.C. secured 20,392 votes while his rival from the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) (CPN-UML) Surendra Manadhar polled 13,615, while Prachanda came third with 12,852 votes.

After defeating his arch rival Prachanda by such a huge margin, Rajan K.C. told reporters that he successfully demolished the Maoist bastion from Kathmandu and termed it as a result of karma. The Nepali Congress is planning a huge victory rally.

The Nov 19 elections have come as a shock for the Maoist party itself in the face of the 2008 elections in which it gained 120 seats out of 240 under the first-past-the-post poll system.

This time, according to preliminary results, the UCPN-M is lagging behind traditional parties like the NC and CPN-UML.

The NC is leading in a majority of seats while the CPN-UML is in the second position. As of now, the results of only two seats under the first-past-the-post have been declared and the NC has secured both the seats.

With initial results suggesting that the UCPN-M is losing across the country and is likely to be confined to the third position after the NC and the CPN-UML, a central committee meeting of the Maoist party has rejected the polls as a national and international conspiracy.


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