22Individual candidate Since the first day of the counting of votes in the recently ended local level election, Balen Shah has been dominating the mayoral race in Kathmandu.
Balen received 41,279 votes versus NC Shrijana Shrestha’s 23, 855 votes, according to the Election Commission Nepal (ECN). However, Keshav Stiphit, who was pursuing Balen, was 831 votes behind Shrestha in third place. Sunita Dangol, a CPN-UML deputy mayoral candidate, is in a comfortable lead at the top with 42, 428 votes over CPN (Unified) candidate Rameshwor Shrestha’s 14, 242 votes, while RPP candidate Binita Magaiya is in third place with 8,661 votes.
In Dharan Sub-Metropolitan and Dhangadhi Sub-Metropolis, respectively, independent candidates Harka Sampang and Gopal Hamal were victorious. Butwal Sub-Metropolitan City mayor Khel Raj Pandey was elected, along CPN-UML deputy Sabitri Devi Aryal.
Balen Shah is a structural engineer who is proud of his credentials. His campaign for mayor of Kathmandu was first seen as a “joke,” and others have referred to his victory as “a fluke.” While many people have taken a polarized position on the issue, Kathmandu voters have become fanatics, and Nepali intellectuals are baffled.’
Is this a case of an individual success or a political trend? Several issues arise: Is this a smear campaign against the system or the current political direction? Is this a change in voting behavior? Has chain voting and ethnic bloc voting become obsolete? What does this outcome tell us about the future?
Keshav Sthapit, the UML’s mayoral candidate in Kathmandu, has repeatedly encouraged people to trust him with the key cities. The ethnic bloc voters are (or were expected to be) concentrated in these key cities. This time, the core cities have disappointed Sthapit; he is not receiving the predicted ethnic bloc votes.
Is voting by ethnic groups a thing of the past? Balen Shah’s strong showing in the metropolis’s center city implies ethnic bloc voting is gradually fading. Because of his non-Newa background, intellectuals were skeptical of Balen Shah when he began campaigning. Parties have been free to enter Newa candidates in mayoral elections in order to gain “Newa votes.” Balen Shah has defied this preconception and brought about a significant shift.