Nepal elections: Lesser known Rastriya Swatantra Party emerging as dark horse : The Tribune India

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Nepal elections: Lesser known Rastriya Swatantra Party emerging as dark horse

‘The bell is ringing against larger parties,’ reads a social media post, in reference to the bell, which is RSP’s election symbol

Nepal elections: Lesser known Rastriya Swatantra Party emerging as dark horse

An election commission staff separates ballot papers to count a day after the general election in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Monday, November 21, 2022. AP/PTI


Kathmandu, November 21

The Rastriya Swatantra Party, floated by a former television personality, has emerged as the dark horse in the Nepal elections, coming third behind heavyweights like the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, and leading in seven constituencies.

The counting of votes started after elections to House of Representatives and seven provincial assemblies were held on Sunday.

According to the Election Commission, about 61 per cent polling was recorded across the Himalayan nation.

The Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) is floated by Rabi Lamichhane, a 48-year-old former television personality, who shot to fame while attempting to set the Guinness world record for hosting the longest-ever marathon talk show in 2013.

The RSP is currently leading in three constituencies in Kathmandu and one in Lalitpur district.

The ruling Nepali Congress (NC), which has so far won in one constituency, is leading in 32 constituencies, while CPN-UML led by former prime minister K P Sharma Oli is leading in 17 constituencies.

Prem Bahadur Maharjan of CPN-UML won from Lalitpur - 2 constituency, according to the Election Commission sources, as the party bagged its first seat from the constituency.

He secured 19,834 votes against his nearest rival Sudin Shakya of Hamro Nepal Party, who got 10,440.

Earlier, Nepali Congress won its first seat from Mustang constituency.

RSP is leading in 7 constituencies, while the Rastriya Prajatantra Party has the lead in 5 constituencies and CPN-Maoist Centre in 4 constituencies respectively.

“The bell is ringing against larger parties,” read a social media post, in reference to the bell, which is RSP’s election symbol.

The RSP’s impressive performance is a wake-up call for larger parties like NC and the CPN-UML, observers said.

They opined that the RSP will not only get the recognition as the national party, but will also be one of the key players in the country’s political spectrum over the next five years.

Many who have voted for either the Nepali Congress or CPN-UML in the past have sided with the RSP in this election due to their dissatisfaction against the bigger parties, who have failed to check corruption, political observers explained.

Various opinion polls conducted prior to Sunday’s elections have indicated that the RSP and some independents may pull off upset wins.

Around 900 independent candidates contested the federal and provincial assembly elections.

Except for the 1999 elections, independent candidates have always won seats in Nepal’s parliament.

While the frustration of Nepalis towards the traditional political parties is palpable, it remains to be seen whether the candidates of the major parties will receive a serious challenge from the newbies, be it from the RSP or the independent candidates, The Kathmandu Post reported.

“The traditional parties failed in this election to appeal to the youths. That may mean votes for the candidates of new political parties or the independents,” socio-political analyst Bhim Bhurtel told the Post.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has bagged 463 out of the 1,000 votes counted so far in Dadeldhura district, from where he is contesting elections to the House of Representatives.

Deuba’s nearest rival, the 31-year-old engineer Sagar Dhakal, has received 241 votes.

Deuba, 76, was elected from Dadeldhura constituency on six occasions and has never lost an election.

Out of 91,201 voters in Dadeldhura, 51,660 have cast their votes in the polls for the House of Representatives.

Former prime minister and CPN-UML chair Oli has taken a huge early lead from his constituency, Jhapa-5, according to the Himalayan Times newspaper.

As many as 6,200 of the total votes cast were counted in the primary phase, of which Oli secured 3,212 votes, the report said.

His closest contender, Khagendra Adhikari of Nepali Congress has received 1,523 votes.

Oli and Adhikari were candidates from the same constituency in the 2018 elections as well.

More than 17.9 million voters were eligible to cast their votes to elect the House of Representatives and provincial assemblies.

Out of 275 Members of Parliament, 165 will be elected through direct voting, while the remaining 110 will be elected through a proportional electoral system.

Voters also voted to elect representatives to seven provincial assemblies.

Out of a total of 550 members of the provincial assemblies, 330 will be elected directly and 220 will be elected through the proportional method.

The next government in Nepal will face challenges of keeping a stable political administration, reviving the tourism industry, and balancing ties with neighbours—China and India.

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