Till press time on Tuesday morning, the NC had won three provincial seats and was leading in 45 constituencies while UML has one win with its candidates maintaining their lead in 35 others.
The Maoist Centre leads in just 11 areas while the Unified Socialists and RSP with leads in 8 constituencies each. The UML is expected to do better than the NC in seats under the Proportional Representation (PR) mechanism.
The RSP is also forecast to add many more PR seats, perhaps even as the fourth-largest party in the new federal Parliament. This is a dramatic rise for a party that was formed only six months ago by charismatic former tv anchor Rabi Lamichhane and who was joined by young and forceful candidates campaigning for good governance, accountability, better service delivery and job-creation.
Rabi Lamichhane himself has fallen behind the NC’s Umesh Shrestha in Chitwan-2, but that could be because the votes so far counted are mainly from coalition strongholds.
RSP is, however, leading in Chitwan-2 where Hari Dhakal is ahead of NC’s Biswo Paudel and UML’s Surendra Pandey, the MP from the constituency in 2017. Former House Speaker Onsari Gharti of the Maoist Centre is also trailing behind Rastriya Swatantra Party’s Sobita Gautam in Kathmandu-2.
The RSP’s Toshima Karki, a physician, is edging past the UML’s Amrit Khadka to lead in Lalitpur-3. Maoist Centre’s Pampha Bhusal who is also Energy Minister is trailing behind the two.
The RSP’s, Shishir Khanal, and education reformer, is far ahead of former police chief Sarbendra Khanal of the UML in Kathmandu-6, and is likely to win. The RSP is also leading in constituencies in Kaski, Jhapa and Rupandehi districts.
“The coalition votes were split and scattered. The way I see it, losers this time are Maoist Centre, Unified Socialist, and the Mashes-based JSP and LSP,” says analyst Acharya.
He adds that this is the direct result of the Maoist Centre and Unified Socialists (US) seeking more constituencies than their ability. “If the NC had a candidate in 25 more constituencies instead of distributing it to the Maoists and US, it would have ensured a bigger victory for the party,” explains Acharya. “Except now, they have pretty much gifted many of seats to the UML.”
Elsewhere, the NC’s General Secretary Gagan Thapa looks set to win Kathmandu-4 with UML’s Rajan Bhattarai trailing. Thapa has publicly declared that he would like to be the next prime minister and replace those “who have had many chances in the past to serve the country”.
In Kathmandu-7, it looks like Manushi Bhattarai will have a hard time catching up with her rivals — despite support from the coalition. Her father, former Maoist ideologue Baburam Bhattarai had swapped his Gurkha constituency with Pushpa Kamal Dahal to win Maoist support for Manushi.
The royal-right Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) chair Rajendra Prasad Lingden has taken an initial lead in Jhapa-3 where the UML-backed leader is up against the coalition’s Krishna Prasad Sitaula of NC.
Uday Shumsher Rana of NC has taken a lead in Lalitpur-1 slightly edging past Nawaraj Silwal of UML. In Kathmandu-5, it’s the battle of new faces with Hamro Nepal Party’s Suman Sayami just ahead of Biraj Bhakta Shrestha of Rastriya Swatantra Party in the vote counting.
Erstwhile separatist CK Raut has also taken an initial lead in Saptari-2 with Jayprakash Thakur of Lokatantrik Samjbadi and Upendra Yadav of Janata Samajbadi trailing behind. Maoist Centre on the other hand has also taken an initial lead in Jajarkot with Shakti Basnet ahead of Niraj Acharya of UML.