Well, the elections for the members of the House of Representatives and provincial assemblies are just round the corner now, and the people also have great expectations from the candidates they vote for, whether they belong to some party or they are independent candidates. The election manifestoes made public by the major parties have elated the public, but they are also apprehensive that these pledges may not be fulfilled just like in the past. Yet, most people seem elated by the fact that they have another chance to elect capable leaders who will create a better future for them. There are also sceptics, who say that no big change can be made with the same old faces in power.
However, such predictions have not dampened the spirit of the voters, who all are enthusiastic to participate in the forthcoming elections. Like said by an expert in a TV talk programme, just the fact that another election is being held, ‘is the beauty of the present democratic system’ and this aspect should not be undermined by anyone. This is true, as the transfer of power in this country has always been a peaceful one and power has been transferred from not only one political party or the other to one another, but even when there has been a drastic change in the whole power play game, it still has been smooth and mostly peaceful. Such transition of power has been smooth all the time and we must give credit to the present major parties for making this possible.
While the people may have reservations about the long term programmes of the major parties, they still expect quick delivery in their day-to-day problems. The people also believe that this can only happen if there is a stable government, even if it is a coalition government like the present one. The parties must seriously consider this wish of the voters and act accordingly when and if they come to power. Meanwhile, the so-called civil society leaders, experts, analysts and especially the media should also be careful to abide by the regulations of this monumental political exercise and not take any sides for one party or the other.
The media certainly has a great influence over building political opinion among the voters and they should remain most vigilant against any wrongdoing by others, they simply cannot afford to take sides themselves. Also surprising is the almost deafening silence of the major parties in the foreign policy of Nepal. We all can’t escape from the fact that this country depends heavily on foreign aid not only for its regular expenditure, but also for its development programmes. Besides the long term projects and certain programmes to make life easier for the nation, the important factor is also there for Nepal to remain neutral on all international political issues.
This is a policy prescribed centuries ago and it is most relevant now when powerful and rich nations are divided on certain issues in which Nepal would gain more if it stays neutral. As reiterated by President Bidya Devi Bhandari, the basic theme of Nepal’s foreign policy is non-alignment. This is true and others also reiterate this same belief, but in practice, we don’t see our political parties saying much about this important aspect of taking Nepal forward without any international controversy. Still, the main objective of the political parties should be in delivering the goods for the welfare of the general masses first.
Even during the two biggest festivals that had dominated the life of the majority of the citizens, there were complaints of the rising inflation in the markets, businessmen and industrialists complaining of the high interest rates of their bank loans and such other things which affect the daily life of the ordinary people. Therefore, the first aim of any government, which comes to power after the November 20 elections, should be to address these problems. Whatever, the positive indicators are that all the political parties seem to be serious about institutionalising the democratic process the nation is seeing now.
Whatever any government has been facing, yet all of them have not differed from this trend. While the authorities may not have been fully successful in punishing the individuals guilty of breaking the law, still some progress is being made in this direction as well. Some highly popular figures have been punished by the court and many people think the same sort of attitude should be taken against other individuals involved in corruption as well, whether they belong to any party, whether they are top level bureaucrats or even security officials. There is no doubt that corruption has been the root cause for the many ills faced by the nation and many proud Nepali citizens hang their heads in shame when they hear outsiders say how corrupt the system here in Nepal is.
To tackle this situation should also be the main focus of whichever party or coalition that comes to power and automatically the majority of the citizens will be happy. This should be the major aim of the parties if they really want a stable government which will last a full term, instead of what we have been seeing in the past when coalition governments have failed to remain stable. So the enthusiastic voters are really hopeful that their votes will bring a stable government and make this country once more a socially secure and economically strong one. But all such hopes depend on the behaviour of the leaders that get elected from the forthcoming polls.
(Yug Bahadur is a freelancer.)