Chandra Bhandari of Nepali Congress (NC) and Pradeep Gyawali of CPN-UML are old foes in Gulmi Constituency-1. The two have taken turns as elected representatives from the constituency in the elections since 2008.
This time around, too, the main contest will be between Gyawali and Bhandari as they face off in the November 20 election to the House of Representatives.
In the 1999 general election, Gyawali had defeated Chandra KC of NC in Gulmi-2. He has been contesting all the elections since then from Gulmi-1.
Gyawali won the election in 2008 and 2017, while Bhandari was elected in 2013. While Gyawali had the backing of the left alliance in the 2017 election, Bhandari is supported by the ruling coalition this time.
Based on the number of votes received by ward chair candidates in the local elections held in May, the ruling coalition is ahead of UML by only 1,060 votes. NC candidates received 31,294 votes and CPN (Maoist Center) candidates got 4,970 votes, while CPN (Unified Socialist) managed only 497 votes.
UML ward chair candidates secured 35,701 votes.
Voters of the constituency have elected Gyawali and Bhandari alternately in the past three elections. Who will they choose this time? It is not yet clear who is stronger between the two.
Gyawali, who is not far behind the ruling coalition in terms of votes despite the party’s split, faces the challenge of winning the votes of neutral voters. He will have to convince the voters of Gulmi-1 to reelect him as they have not elected any candidate consecutively since 2008.
Gyawali appears confident of getting votes from not only his party, but also the disgruntled faction of NC. He claims that the people will elect him again because of the role he has played in Gulmi’s development and disaster management.
“The ruling coalition is there, I wouldn’t say that there is no competition at all but I am confident of my victory,” Gyawali said. “Disgruntled friends have expressed commitment to support me saying Congress has reached a point of losing its identity. Because of UML’s strong organization and the goodwill of disgruntled friends from the ruling coalition, I am not stressed about the election result.”
NC candidate Bhandari, meanwhile, faces the challenge of drawing all the votes to himself.
He says that he will secure an easy victory because of the ruling coalition.
“There is no reason for me to lose in this constituency. On top of that, there is the ruling coalition now. The people will elect me also because of the work I had done after being elected in 2013,” Bhandari said.