Kathmandu: Sounding the death knell for the 240-year-old Hindu monarchy, the Maoists consolidated their impressive lead, wining 61 of the 112 seats for which results were declared on Sunday, with several of the bigwigs of the Nepali Congress that dominated Nepal’s politics biting the dust.
Victory celebrations: Supporters of Nepal’s Maoist party parade through the streets in Kathmandu on Sunday.
With 20 seats, the Nepali Congress (NC) of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala was way behind the former rebels who are contesting their first election after giving up a decade-long armed struggle in 2006. Several NC leaders suffered humiliating defeats, including acting president Shushil Koirala (Banke) and senior leader Sujata Koirala, daughter of Koirala.
Neither did the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist Leninist) fare well, winning just 17 seats in the 10 April election for the 240 seats of the constituent assembly that will decide the country’s future political system and the fate of the Shah dynasty. CPN-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal lost from Kathmandu and resigned from the post. While the royalists failed to open their account, the Maoists, seeking abolition of monarchy, continued their victory celebrations.
Prominent CPN (Maoist) winners included party chairman Prachanda alias Pushpa Kamal Dahal, second-in-rank Baburam Bhattarai, senior leader Ram Bahadur Thapa, spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara, central members Dev Gurung, Barsha Man Pun, Hisila Yami and Pambha Bhushal.
Prachanda has won from both Rolpa and Kathmandu constituencies.
The Maoists stunning showing came on a day when embattled King Gyanendra expressed satisfaction over the enthusiastic participation in the election by the people committed to protecting national integrity.
As results trickled in, 54-year-old Prachanda, whose real name is Pushapa Kamal Dhahal, said Nepal will develop a “new relation” with the Indian leadership. It is “quite important” to have a very good neighbourly relations with India, he said, adding “ a good understanding with Delhi can create a new basis of unity with India.”
Prachanda, also said Nepal will maintain equal distance both with India and China in political terms.
King Gyanendra’s supporter Kamal Thapa of Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (Nepal) lost, as did other pro-royalist parties—Surya Bahadur Thapa-led Rashtriya Janshkati Party and Rastriya Prajatantra Party headed by Pashupati Shumsher Rana.
Among the Terai parties which are seeking greater autonomy for the region dominated by ethnic Indians Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) has won seven seats, while Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party and Sadbhavana Party won one seat each.
The 240 seats for which the tally is under way in the 601-member assembly will be filled on a first-past-the-post basis. The Election Commission has ordered repolling in as many as 75 polling stations.