The Nepali Congress today emerged as the leading party in polls to elect an assembly that will draft Nepal's new Constitution, maintaining a narrow lead over CPN-UML while Prachanda-led Maoists were a distant third.
As the vote counting under direct voting system drew closer to an end, the Nepali Congress bagged 104 seats out of the total 240 constituencies under the direct election followed by CPN-UML which got 91 seats.
UCPN-Maoist got third position, securing 25 seats and the remaining 18 seats went to Madhesi and fringe parties.
CPN-UML was leading in the proportionate voting system, securing 207,000 votes followed by Nepali Congress which so far got 189,000 votes. UCPN-Maoist secured 118,000 votes.
Prominent Madhesi leaders, including Mahanta Thakur, president of Terai Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP), Hrideysh Tripathi, general secretary of TMDP, Brishesh Chandra Lal, vice president of TMDP, Rajendra Mahato, president of Sadbhawana Party, Anil Jha, president of Federal Sadbhawana Party, Sarita Giri, president of Nepal Sadbhawana Party and Rameshwor Ray, senior vice president of Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum (Democratic) lost the election.
Sharad Singh Bhandari, president of Rastriya Madhes Party, lost election from two constituencies.
Other prominent leaders, who lost the election include, Ishwor Poakharel, general secretary of CPN-UML, Shanker Pokharel, secretary of CPN-UML, Narayankaji Shrestha, Vice-chairman of UCPN-Maoist, Hisila Yami, senior leader and spouse of former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai.
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. Under the proportionate voting system, 58 per cent of the votes are required for winning the polls.
Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala and senior leader of CPN-UML Madhav Kumar Nepal are expected to be the prime ministerial candidates.