Changes to Constitution, border main issues in Nepal’s Nov 20 general elections

Ahead of November 20 general elections, political parities in Nepal have released their manifestos and the campaigning is set to begin across the country.

At least two major parties —Maoists and the pro-monarchy Rastriya Prajatantra Party — this election promise drastic changes in the fundamental feature of the constitution, while the main opposition, Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, has indicated nationalism, and criticism of India on border issue to be their election promises.

UML Chief K P Oli, who won a landslide victory in alliance with the Maoists in the 2017 elections, has tactically chosen Darchula as the venue for his inaugural public campaign. Darchula shares the border with India’s Uttarakhand where both the countries are in contention over three areas — Lipulek, Limpiadhura and Kalapani—which they claim are part of their respective maps.

Oli, who as Prime Minister in 2019 had taken the lead and succeeded in getting the Parliament unanimously approving the new map, hopes to garner the local sympathy in the wake of two deaths — one of a youth in Mahakali river and another 9-year-old in a road blast— for which India is blamed.

“The negotiation had already begun over the disputed territory, but our exit from the government stalled it,” Oli said, while releasing the manifesto on Tuesday and promising to pursue it again. He also accused the Nepali Congress Party and the electoral alliance, including Maoists, of surrendering National interest to the outsiders.

In a related move, Rajan Bhattarai, one of the candidates for the parliamentary elections and key advisor to Oli on foreign affairs accused the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of not giving an appointment to receive the Eminent Persons Group report prepared unanimously by two sides on the way forward to upgrade and update the bilateral relations .

The Maoist Party, in its manifesto, has opted for drastic change in the electoral system —full proportional system against the current mixed model, a directly elected executive President and the cabinet under him , while the RPP, which is gaining popularity among the masses, wants replacement of the republic Constitution.

“We want monarchy as the Guardian of the nation and a Hindu state along with a directly elected Prime Minister ,” said Rajendra Lingden, Chairman of the RPP.

The Nepali Congress that has been accused of being pro-BJP on one hand and closer to the US on security matters, has cautiously clarified that it would continue to adopt non-aligned foreign policy.

Maoist Chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who moved to Gorkha, a new constituency, has been facing criticism for his party allegedly being responsible for vandalising the statue of King Prithvinarayan Shah, who is considered as the architect of modern Nepal.“I never gave any instruction for the vandalism 16 years ago, but a statue of the late King would be built,” he told his constituency.

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