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Which party will be first in Province-2?

Province-2As the voting date of September 18 local elections is coming closer, the political parties have intensified their canvassing with the aim of emerging the largest party in the province.
Leaders of major political parties have claimed that their party would emerge as the largest party in the province. Likewise, Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal is also working to win most of the local units in the eight districts.
In the past, the districts of Province 2 were stronghold of Nepali Congress, and the NC has naturally claimed to be the largest party. However, the party was yet to finalise its candidates in a few municipalities in the province. And the RJP-N is likely to steal votes of the NC this time.
Of course, Province-2 is now the stronghold of RJP-N as most of the Madhes movements of the past were centred in the region and almost all senior RJP-N leaders are also from this provision. If the RJP-N fails to become the largest party even in this province, it will be difficult to the party to make its presence feel. However, the leaders and cadres of the party have started quarreling over the tickets of candidates. Recently, local RJP-N leaders reportedly resorted to physical fights in Birgunj.
CPN-Maoist Centre chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been in Terai for the last two weeks and he has claimed that his party would emerge as the largest party in the province. When a few influential leaders of the Madhes-based parties joined his party, Dahal looked optimistic about party’s improved performance in Province-2.
Likewise, the CPN-UML that has popular base along the East-West Highway, has also made similar claim. Federal Socialist Forum Nepal is also strong in the province.
However, NC and Maoist-Centre seemed to be afraid of CPN-UML as they are preparing to forge electoral alliance in the municipalities located along the East-West Highway.
As the parties have almost finalised the list of candidates, analysts have begun to estimate which party will become the first force in the region.
Data from previous elections in these districts show that the major competition in the Province is for the second position only. Perhaps, that is why the Nepali Congress seems confident enough of winning the most seats. Therefore, local leaders in the Province have not expedited electioneering much in their constituencies in comparison with other parties.
Other major forces–mainly CPN-UML, CPN-Maoist Centre, Rastriya Janata Party Nepal and Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal–are likely to vie for the second position in the Province though they claim in the public that they will emerge as the biggest.
Nevertheless, UML and RJPN might give a daunting challenge to the Congress.
In the 2013 parliamentary elections, the Congress had received 313,966 votes under the proportional representation category from the eight districts which are now in Province-2. The UML had become the second force with 285,762 votes. The Maoist Centre was in the third position with 211,452 votes.
However, six key Madhesh-centric parties have become united as the RJP-N and the votes received by these six parties collectively are more than that of the Maoists. The six parties together had received 251,990 votes. It means the RJPN is not only the third biggest force in the Province, but a neck-and-neck competitor for the UML.
Votes received by Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal are little more than half of the votes of Maoists. But the party is said to have become stronger after the merger with Ashok Rai-led party.
The Nepal Democratic Forum led by Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar, however, has been quite defensive in the province.

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