As vote counting of the elections to the federal and provincial legislatures has reached its final phase, the Nepali Congress (NC) has begun holding consultations with other partners of the ruling coalition in regard to the formation of the two-tier governments. Prime Minister and NC president Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN-Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda have held parleys to work out plans for moving ahead with sharing power. Poll results signal that no single party is going to secure majority in both the federal and provincial legislatures.
However, NC has emerged as the largest party in the House of Representatives (HoR) as well as some provincial assemblies. As of writing this piece, the party has secured 53 seats in the elections held for 165 members under the first-past-the-post (FTPT) system. The party may win some more seats under this category as vote counting in some constituencies continue.
The Election Commission (EC) is also counting votes for 110 seats of the federal parliament under the proportional representation (PR) system. Though the poll authority had aimed at announcing all election results within eight days from the polling day (November 20), it may take some more days for it to complete the vote count. The process of counting ballots has not been going on smoothly in some constituencies owing to disputes between the political parties in the election fray. However, the incumbent five-party ruling alliance is hopeful that it may win as many as 140 seats in HoR and become capable of forming the governments at the federal and provincial levels.
‘Wait and see’ mode
When the preliminary electoral results had been pouring in, CPN-UML chairman KP Sharma Oli had made his phone call to Prachanda, proposing for forging an alliance with his party. It was the first conversation between these two leaders since the then Nepal Communist Party (NCP) got split. Oli and Prachanda had been involved in mudslinging each other since the former’s first attempt to dissolve the HoR about two years ago. They kept on criticising each other during the recent canvassing as well. But UML now seems to be in a ‘wait and see’ mode with increased possibility for the governing alliance to gain simple majority in HoR. To challenge the ruling alliance partners, including NC, CPN-Maoist Centre and CPN-Unified Socialist, in the elections, UML had joined hands even with the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) in
Having ousted from power after the Supreme Court restored HoR second time within six months in July last year, UML held the parliament hostage for a record nine months. It was really a wrong move on the part of the main opposition to keep obstructing the people’s elected body. That hampered the formulation of many important laws required for institutionalising the inclusive constitution and consolidating the hard-won federal system of governance. The party was criticised widely for its damaging step.
However, UML has now become the second biggest force in HoR, securing more than 40 seats through the FTPT system, while Maoist Centre has won 17 seats. Five years ago, the NCP had secured almost two-thirds majority in HoR. The CPN-Unified Socialist has won 10 seats. What is miraculous is that the country has witnessed the emergence of some new forces—Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) led by TV journalist Rabi Lamichhane, and Nagarik Unmukti Party headed by Resham Chaudhari. Formed only few months ago, RSP has so far secured seven seats in HoR. RSP has won more votes than CPN-Unified Socialist under the PR system. Though Chaudhari has been serving his jail sentence for his involvement in the notorious Tikapur murder incident in 2015, his party has
secured three seats.
Likewise, former secessionist CK Raut’s Janamat Party has secured one seat from Saptari. Raut has defeated Janata Samajbadi Party’s Updendra Yadav with a wide margin. The appearance of these new forces has dealt a serious blow to the old and established political parties like NC and UML. One of the major reasons behind the unexpected loss faced by the established parties is that their leaders continued to crave for posts, power and money. Instead of working in the interest of the people and the nation, they dedicated themselves to fulfilling their selfish interests. The fresh election seems to have been an opportunity for the people to express their frustrations. Electoral patterns were a clear indication that the people want tangible reforms.
So, they have voted for new faces in order to help make the government and parliament more effective and accountable. That RSP has stood out fourth in PR votes hints at the fact that the people are not happy with the established parties’ performance. Even in the past, these parties were blamed for being least concerned about important development and other national issues.
Their way of selecting candidates for the polls is also responsible for their humiliating defeat in many constituencies. The party leaderships appear to have been distributing tickets to their friends and relatives. Dedicated, honest and visionary persons hardly get a chance. Many candidates, including some prominent ones, belonging to established political parties have been defeated. Even several incumbent ministers at the federal and provincial levels have lost elections. This is definitely a wake-up call for the leaderships of these parties to make over their modus operandi. They must realise their mistakes and act accordingly in order to take the parties’ cadres, supports, well-wishers and common people into confidence.
Looking at the election results, many have suspected that the nation might plunge into political instability. The ruling alliance led by NC has vowed to allow the parliament to run for its full five-year term. They also must deliver on all promises made to the people during the elections.
(The author is a deputy executive editor of this daily.)