Less than 50 days remains to the municipal polls and this will be the first time in more than six years that the people will be voting for their representatives in the 58 municipalities. People in the towns and cities are looking forward to the election as the first step of the people’s representatives taking over the governance once again. The local bodies have remained without the people’s representatives after the Deuba government decided to abolish the elected bodies instead of holding elections.
More than 70 political parties, both old and new ones, have registered at the Election Commission and the people have a positive outlook towards the municipal election as a forerunner of the parliamentary election. While the people look enthusiastic for the election the agitating seven political parties are desperate.
The political parties, especially Nepali Congress and the UML, know that they will have to face total rejection of the people if they fight the election. The primary reason of the parties opposing the February 1 step is because the King talked about holding local level elections within one year and the parliamentary election within three years. Thus, they have taken to the negative tactic of not allowing the holding of the election so that they could continue claiming the public mandate of the last general and local level elections.
That is why first the Nepali Congress and later the UML started demanding for the reinstatement of the House of Representatives they themselves had killed. It is now obvious that the seven parties do not want any election and they have gone to the extent of joining hands with the Maoists, who the parties themselves had declared terrorists, to avoid going through the litmus test of the democratic process. The parties also know if there is election and there are long queues at the polling booths, their political future will be in serious trouble.
But with the people spurning their call for boycott, the parties said that they would resort to coercive tactics to disrupt the election. A few days back, UML leader Madhav Kumar’s cry of desperation was that they would blockade the towns and cities not to allow the polling.
But it looks certain that the public will shun the boycott of those parties. Even if they can disrupt at a few places, a majority of the people look determined to vote. With so many parties taking part and people voting to elect their representatives, there will be no logic if those parties or their foreign backers say that the election will be valid only if the Nepali Congress or the UML participate in it. They all know that in an election everybody is equal and all have equal chance.
The government has said that it will take all necessary actions if there is any attempt to disrupt the people’s right to choose their representatives through democratic process.
People have long been complaining that they were finding it difficult to get local services and have suffered because of the absence of people’s representatives. Now, it is time for the people to put their representatives in place for better delivery of the services and above all to keep the wheels of democracy running.
Nepali elections being the soul and backbone of democracy, it is imperative that all those who believe in democracy assist in making the municipal polls a success. All sides should support the February 1 Royal Proclamation which was aimed at consolidating democracy and restoring peace in the country. As for the upcoming polls, the security apparatus has been remarkably strengthened and is geared to providing full security during the municipal election slated for February 8 next year. All necessary arrangements have been made as per the requirement of the Election Commission (EC) to conduct the election.
If the political parties who talk of boycotting the polls were to take back their words, it would prove that they have faith in the sovereign rights of the people and in democracy. The people are eagerly waiting for the day when they will be able to exercise their rights by casting their ballots in the election. The government’s sincere commitment is to leave no stone unturned to safeguard the voting rights of the people. The security bodies are ready to perform their duties in ensuring that the people can vote during the election without any fear. This must instill relief in the people as they will now be able to choose their representatives to man the municipalities in the country.
The municipal election is just the first step in consolidating democracy. It is to be later followed by the elections to the House of Representatives within the next year according to the Nepalese calendar. The democratic process has begun. Now, it is up to the political parties to make it a success. Shying away from the polls, as some political parties are doing, does not benefit anyone, rather it will be detrimental to themselves.
If they consider themselves democratic, they must openly come forward and take part in the polls. The polls are the way that the political parties can prove their worth. If the people have faith in any particular political party or individual, they will vote for them. Herein, one point must be mentioned, and that is the fear among the political parties that they will be rejected by the people. This is because of their misdeeds in the past. However, if they repent, they can assert their commitment to democracy and the people’s right to choose their representatives through the elections.
By Ms Nina Khadka