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Prachanda scrapes through

- Maoist chief in Siraha win, Nepali Congress takes lead

Kathmandu, Nov. 23 (PTI): Nepal Maoist chief Prachanda was today elected to Nepal’s Constituent Assembly after he won from Siraha, southern Nepal, by a narrow margin even as three of his relatives suffered humiliating defeats in the polls.

Prachanda, the Unified CPN-Maoist chief, was elected by a margin of just 900 votes. He secured 15,244 votes to defeat his nearest rival Lila Shrestha of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML).

Today, the Nepali Congress (NC) took a lead over the CPN-UML as the Maoists were headed for a humiliating defeat. The NC won 101 seats while the CPN-UML bagged 89 out of the 231 directly elected seats for which results have been declared so far. The Maoists were trailing in third position with 24 seats. Other fringe parties won 17.

Apart from losing in a Kathmandu constituency, where he finished third, Prachanda suffered major blows as his daughter Renu Dahal, cousin Narayan Dahal and daughter–in-law Bina Magar lost the race to enter the 601-member Assembly that will draft Nepal’s new Constitution.

Renu was defeated in a Kathmandu seat after NC general secretary Prakash Man Singh emerged victorious by a big margin.

Bina Magar was defeated in Kanhanpur by CPN-UML candidate Lal Bahadur. B.K. Narayan Dahal lost from a Chitawan constituency to CPN-UML candidate Krishna Bhakta Pokharel.

Maoist supporters did not celebrate Prachanda’s victory in Siraha. They are threatening to boycott the Assembly alleging a conspiracy.

With only nine results for the directly elected seats yet to be announced, NC appeared set to emerge as the party with most seats in this category.

The counting of votes will lead to the formation of a 601-member Constituent Assembly, including 240 elected through direct voting. Proportionate voting will elect 335 members and the remaining 26 will be nominated by the government.

A party needs a total of 301 seats to get an absolute majority.

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