Nepalis Vote For A Change

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The results of the second election at the federal and provincial levels held after the federal democratic republican system was established in Nepal are now pouring in. During the election campaign and voting, instead of the excitement to go to the booths to cast votes, many Nepali citizens seemed to be seriously thinking of not going to the polls at all. As a result, the voter turnout was only 61 per cent in g the election conducted on November 20. 

Before the election day, the electorates did not seem to want to cast votes for the same candidates they had voted for in the last elections 5 years ago. There was a total confusion among the voters on who is actually representing which party and which candidate is loyal to which party. 

The electorates seemed utterly confused about the ideologies of the coalition parties who were contesting jointly in this election. The question of how someone who has voted for the communist ideology party throughout their lives vote for someone loyal to the monarchy, or how can someone who has voted for the Nepali Congress ideology throughout vote for someone representing the Maoist philosophy were topics of discussion during the days prior to the election day. 

Conscious voters

As the results are coming out, the Nepali electorates have once again shown that they are very conscious and do not get swayed away completely. Certain victories are now being announced. One very closely-watched constituency is Kathmandu Constituency No 1 where Rabindra Mishra, the journalist-turned politician, was fighting to oust the incumbent Prakash Man Singh of Nepali Congress. The latter has beaten him for the second time and has maintained his hold of this constituency, although with a slim margin. The fact that Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) - a royalist party - to which Rabindra Mishra was attached with this time round, almost defeated NC’s influential leader in its stronghold areas. It indicates the rise of a strong royalist force. However, the hard core NC voters did not get swayed. But there are reports of RPP, especially president Lingdel’s supporters, taking the lead in some constituencies.

A visit to Birgunj and Hetauda and interactions with some residents before the election day had highlighted the fact that the people are really confused as to what principles, issues and ideologies the politicians and the political parties are trying to establish in the country. 

Looking at the trend of the results as of writing this article, that are being declared and the trend, it does look that the NC will garner majority votes in the Terai belt.  The youth force has always played a crucial role during every political event of the country. This year, there is one faction of the youth that has shown its dissent to the ongoing elections by fielding their own independent candidacy all around the country while others are voicing their concerns that the political parties who have pledged to serve the nations have betrayed by crossing ideological lines and have been mired in corruption and not really fit to rule.  The Rastriya Swotantra Party (RSP), led by Rabi Lamichane, is definitely seen as a possible party that is looming up to be a national political party. The candidates of this party are seen emerging all around the country. This is an interesting trend as majority of the candidates from this party are young educated candidates who are mostly not known by the general public. 

In Lalitpur constituency No 3, Dr Toshima Karki from the same party is leading the incumbent Pampha Bhusal- a seasoned Maoist politician - by a wide margin. Karki, who is a general surgeon at Patan Hospital, Lalitpur, has had her entire education including her higher studies from Nepal and has no political background but has still managed to convince the people from her constituency that educated Nepali youth who are honest, skilled and principled should be elected and should be given a chance to govern the country. Her political ambition has made a mark with her representing RSP and challenging the established political parties and politicians who have played a crucial role in establishing democracy in this country. 

Vote for the educated 

This actually indicates that now in Nepal a group of youth have chosen to be educated here and are interested both in developing the country with their professional skills and by getting involved in the governance of the country. 

This is a very positive step and needs to be fostered. However, the old established political parties need to review their internal strategies and prepare a succession plan which will help the youth within their parties to take up leadership roles. The victory of NC general secretary Gagan Thapa suggests that the people want the youth to lead the nation.

In Madhes, the general people and the youth in particular, feel that during the Madhesi movement, several Madhesi people were killed, but there were no benefits for Madhes from the sacrifice of these citizens. 

The general population there feel elections have become a means of spending unnecessary money which should be used for the development of the region instead. There too the youth feel that this time they should cast their votes to educated people only. There are many people who voiced their frustrations at the large amounts of cash that were being spent to swing votes in Madhesh, which will inevitably lead to further corruption. It will now be interesting to see how many new faces emerge from all over Nepal, and how many old faces resurface. Let us hope the election results will bring people who can govern the country in a just and fair manner.

(Sharma is a journalist and women rights advocate.namrata1964@yahoo.com Twitter handle: @NamrataSharmaP)

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