Election Process Is Democracy in Action

Nepal is all set to hold the municipal polls that were necessitated by the growing violence and anarchy in the country in the absence of local body representatives. This has created hindrances in the development activities in the towns, not to speak of in the rural areas.

Their Majesties the King and Queen are back in the capital after meeting the people in the nooks and corners of the Eastern Development Region. The people have demanded peace above everything, although they did not miss the opportunity to demand roads, hospitals and schools for their region. Some even vented personal grievances and concerns as a result of the growing Maoist atrocities.

Candidacy filed

In the run up to the elections, various political parties and independent candidates on Thursday filed their candidacy at the offices of the Election Officers in various districts, despite a bandh called by the alliance of the seven political parties. The candidacies were filed for the posts of mayor, deputy mayor, ward chairman and members in 58 municipalities of the country. This despite the uncertainty created by the Maoist threat and call for a boycott by the Seven Party Alliance (SPA).

In this context, the urban people now have an opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice, who despite the difficult situation prevailing in the country, have mustered enough courage and shown the commitment to fight terrorism and develop their municipalities.

The state at present is preparing for the polls to be held on February 8, while bracing to tackle the terrorists who are determined to disrupt the polls. The state is also having to face the agitation launched by the Seven Party Alliance, which consists of the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, Nepali Congress-Democratic and other small allies. The state must be more vigilant against the SPA’s motive to disrupt the polls.

Maoists are the known enemy, but the SPA has come as a shield for the Maoists, acting as they have like the Maoist spokesman, encouraging them to carry on with their violence to disrupt the polls.

In this connection, the SPA activities in the Kathmandu streets have not been peaceful. We have seen government vehicles being burned before the eyes of the driver or the owner. They have obstructed businesses in the main commercial areas as well as free movement in the city.

The parties of the SPA grouping are unwilling to contest the elections because of their bad image in the past 12 years marked by corruption and political instability. They want the government to postpone the election and start dialogue with the Maoists for the latter’s agenda of a constituent assembly.

But one must question, why did they not talk with the Maoists when they were in power to reach a peaceful solution? How can they expect this government to give to the Maoists what they themselves could not give for the past decade?

The Seven Party Alliance is weak and has, thus, been inviting foreign intervention for an agenda, which the nation can ill afford.

If the SPA wants something from others, it should first be sure if it can deliver it. If it is after muscle power to forward its agenda, then the government might be tempted to creating an atmosphere to show it constitutionally.

The forthcoming elections are a measuring rod of people’s power and a reminder for the newly eligible municipal voters of their sovereign right to choose their representatives and be governed by them.

In an incident that that should be vehemently condemned, the Maoists killed an would-be candidate for mayor in Janakpurdham Municipality from a Nepal Sadbhabana Party (NSP) ticket. This is against the recent Maoist pledge before the UN-OHCHR not to commit any acts of violence against any unarmed people.

President of the NSP Badri Prasad Mandal, at a function organised to pay tribute to the party’s local leader Bijaya Lal Das, said that the NSP would not pull back from contesting the elections despite the Maoist terror and would turn the grief into power.

If the parties could come forward like the NSP, terrorism will find it hard to spread its tentacles.

Postponement Request

Newspaper reports have it that like the SPA, former Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai demanded a postponement of the election during an audience with His Majesty the King. But we need to question what possibly can be achieved from this. Otherwise, the postponement of elections, which are the democratic rights of the people, for a trifle cause, will only aggravate the existing problems.