Rebel Nepali Congress (NC) candidate for mayor of Bharatpur Metropolitan City Jagannath Paudel refused to meet NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba and met Ram Chandra Paudel on Thursday.
Deuba reached Bharatpur a day before the five-party coalition's rally scheduled for Thursday also to talk with the rebel candidate and convince him to deactivate his candidacy and support CPN (Maoist Center) candidate Renu Dahal. Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal also wanted to meet Paudel.
But Jagannath Paudel, who is from anti-Deuba camp of NC, refused to meet Deuba and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and met Ram Chandra Paudel instead.
Ram Chandra Paudel talked with Jagannath Paudel, Krishna Lal Sapkota who proposed the rebel candidate, and supporters Meena Kharel and former lawmaker Bhim Bahadur Shrestha at the hotel where the former was staying Thursday morning.
Ram Chandra Paudel urged the rebel leaders to support the coalition formed to save the Constitution and democracy.
Sapkota, who is former president of Chitwan Congress, replied that the leaders agreed for the meeting only after Ram Chandra Paudel repeatedly called them to talk.
"Jagannath has filed candidacy to save NC. This will benefit Congress in the long run. Leaders cannot therefore, put pressure now to withdraw the independent candidacy," Sapkota said.
He stated that they are ready to support Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal in the general election scheduled to be held later in the year but will not vote again for Renu Dahal. "NC gave mayor post to Maoist Center even in the last local election. We cannot always leave the post of mayor to Maoists."
Jagannath spoke after that and reiterated that he has filed candidacy to save NC.
"I am not alone in this campaign to save Congress. I have support of friends and many others. I have moved far ahead now. Candidacy cannot be deactivated," he stated.
He instead urged Ram Chandra Paudel to ask Renu Dahal to deactivate her candidacy. "We relayed to him our bottom line that we will not take back the candidacy at any cost. Our candidacy remains. We told him to get candidacy of our competitor Renu Dahal withdrawn if he can," Jagannath told Setopati about the meeting.
Jagannath Paudel has filed the rebel candidacy against the decision taken by the party's central leadership to support Maoist candidate Renu Dahal in Bharatpur as per the agreement reached within the five-party ruling coalition.
Local NC leaders were warning the central leadership that the party cadres want to vote for an NC candidate this time and will not vote for Maoist Center. They were pointing that NC should not support Maoist Center in Bharatpur as the grand old party has far more votes than Maoist Center there.
But Deuba agreed to give Bharatpur to Maoist Center after Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who is father of Maoist candidate Renu, insisted that the party would prefer Bharatpur among the six metropolitan cities across the country.