CPN-UML has changed mayoral candidate in Pokhara Metropolitan City after allegations of shoplifting against the previously announced Deepak Paudel.
A video purportedly showing closed-circuit television footage of Paudel, who is close to Deputy General Secretary Prithvi Subba Gurung, shoplifting at a jewelry store became viral less than 24 hours after he was picked as the mayoral candidate became viral on the social media.
Many UML cadres close to Chief of the Organization Department Khaga Raj Adhikari were involved in actively sharing the video to put pressure on the party leadership to change the candidate.
Setopati was not able to independently verify authenticity of the video while no police complaint was filed accusing Paudel of stealing the gold chain at the time as claimed in the video. Paudel himself claimed that the person in the footage is not him and the video has been shared for character assassination.
But the controversy that played out on the social media has been enough for the main opposition party to change its mayoral candidate.
Provincial assembly member in Gandaki Krishna Thapa, who is from the Adhikari faction, has been picked as the new candidate by Chairman KP Sharma Oli after consultation with senior leaders following the controversy, according to UML Chairman in Pokhara Dilip Neupane.
Lawmaker Thapa, who was elected Pokhara mayor 24 years ago, has been picked as mayoral candidate despite the secretariat meeting held at the Oli residence on Saturday deciding to not field any provincial assembly member apart from Bijay Subedi at Bharatpur as a candidate in the local election.
Current Deputy Mayor Manju Devi Gurung, who on Sunday stated that she will not again vie for the post, has also agreed to again contest for the post, according to Neupane.