Oli yet to campaign in Madhes

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Top leaders of the major political parties are focused on Province 2 as the third-phase of local polls approaches but CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli has yet to finalize Madhes visit.

Oli is preparing to start Province 2 campaign on September 13, according to his secretariat. But the places he will visit have yet to be confirmed. "Chairman Oli will go to Madhes but the itinerary has yet to be confirmed. We are working on it," UML General Secretary Ishwore Pokharel, who has been coordinating the preparations for polls in Province 2, told Setopati.    

Top leaders of the main competitors of UML have already confirmed schedule for Madhes visits. Nepali Congress (NC) President and Prime Minister (PM) Sher Bahadur Deuba will go to Madhes with senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel and general secretary Sashank Koirala, and will reportedly remain in Madhes until the electoral silence starts. NC leader Bimalendra Nidhi has been in Madhes for a long time.   

CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been focusing on Madhes-centered programs for the past one month spending the majority of the month in Janakpur. Dahal, who is averse to attending routine programs, even devoted time to interacting with commoners and cadres in teashops.

Oli's itinerary for Madhes visit has yet to be finalized even as PM Deuba has already finalized his and Dahal has dropped anchor in Madhes. Oli has been criticized as anti-Madhes due to his acerbic remarks against Madhes after promulgation of the constitution. Oli, who has become the main target of Madhes-based parties, has visited Janakpur only once after promulgation of the constitution.

UML's Mechi-Mahakali Campaign in Province 2 was postponed after violence in its first program in the province in Rajbiraj. Many UML leaders have advised Oli, who has been acerbic in his comments on Madhes movement, to exercise caution while speaking. But he has been adamant that his comments have been twisted and misconstrued to paint a negative image.

Oli is also aware about his unpopularity in Madhes and is not showing any haste to start election campaign there. UML has deployed former PM Madhav Kumar Nepal and general secretary Pokharel to Madhes. Leader Nepal has been attending programs in Madhes for almost a month apart from his short visit to North Korea.

Leaders like Ghanshyam Bhusal, Bishnu Paudel, Yogesh Bhattarai, Gokarna Bista, Bhim Acharya, Pradeep Gyawali have also been mobilized in Madhes.