There is no doubt that many questions are being raised about the performances of the political parties, but what has to be admitted is that these same parties have played vital roles in bringing about revolutionary changes in the country and they have stuck to the path of a democratic exercise to elect another government. The upcoming elections for the House of Representatives and Provincial Assemblies are major examples of such dedication of the parties. However because of some individuals and a partisan attitude of the media, the blame for all the misdoings has gone to the parties. This is the first thing that leaders of the major parties must get straightened out, before the election and after it too.
Not that the Election Commission has not also been criticised, especially so by some sections of the media. But again what should not be forgotten is that the Commission has put in much effort in holding this monumental political exercise that come only once in five years.
It may have some shortcomings, but by trying to enforce the electoral code of conduct, it has alerted most of the leaders of what they can do and what they should not do before the elections, and it has proved that it is doing its duty. This independent constitutional body may not have punished many well-known leaders, but it has definitely alerted many of them and also created awareness among the voters about the electoral process.
Coming back to what might happen for the parties after the just round-the-corner elections, at the federal level at least, it has become very difficult to make any predictions. It can be guessed that the parties in power now will have some advantage, but the fact that the main opposition CPN-UML has also come to an agreement with some parties to bolster their election prospects is also something experts have to mull about before making any guesses on who will come out as the victor. Many leaders in the opposition, like in the ruling coalition, have made claims of how they will gain a majority in the election, but it is the people who will decide their fate and we must wait to see the results only after the people cast their votes.
We must also accept the fact that many independent candidates are also in the fray and they could not only cut each other’s votes, but also affect the votes of the candidates of the major parties. The leaders have to understand the frustration of the people in general and not only make promises, but also deliver on these issues which will directly affect the voters. This is very important if democracy should be institutionalised and the faith of the people will once again be restored in their mind. Only blaming the politicians and others is not good. After all, like we have already said before, the political parties of all hues and also the Election Commission have done their best to hold free and fair elections.
The role of the much criticised security agencies, especially the Nepali Police, should also not be overlooked. In spite of the force’s damaged reputation, it is working hard to instil a sense of security among the voters and what we must not forget is that, when others are enjoying the holidays, the men and women in the force will be working day and night to ensure safety for the people. This is something which should be appreciated rather than being criticised for whatever shortcoming they may have.
The major thing with many of our institutions is that they are understaffed, including the Election Commission, so whatever they are doing to hold fair and free election is praiseworthy, like in the case of the security personnel. It is the same with the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA). It is constantly blamed for not catching the ‘big fishes’, a favourite term coined by the media, but this Commission also simply does not have enough human resources to look into the rampant cases of corruption taking place in many institutions. It is said that the Commission depends a lot on the Nepal Police for most of its investigations. But this is something which is not disturbing any of the candidates who all have come forth with only big promises for the people.
Now actually is the time when political parties and also independents to come out with strong agendas to fulfil the basic needs of the people. Strengthening democracy and a republican or provincial system is alright, but the need of the people is to have strong security, good health facilities, a good educational system and more importantly a stable market where the rate of inflation is not so great that they have difficulty in making ends meet on a day to day manner. These are the things which the people expect from the political parties as well as other candidates in the upcoming elections.
Now the elections are just a few days away, it is distressing to see the candidates not talking about such needs of the people and instead they are found making promises of only huge projects, which actually mean nothing to the general public. First, the needs of the public should be met and then it is not a bad thing to talk of long-term programmes that will benefit the country and the people as well. So it can be hoped that the political parties and other individuals who are contesting in the forthcoming elections will consider the needs of the people before making tall promises, which actually are good, but which will not bring much changes in the difficulties being faced by the general populace.
(Yug Bahadur is a freelancer.)