Election: Fate For Few, Féte For Many
A few weeks ago, this scribe almost complained that the local election which is going to be held in two decades is not bringing much joy, spirit of celebration and truly 'Electioneering' atmosphere in the public. The parties were almost dormant; inter-and intra-party feuds were in the high pitch, and voters were confused and irritated. How could a typical, committed and devoted Congress cast his/her ballot for a hammer-sicle symbol? No matter how you present your point to convince the people, there are still those who are asking this question with extremely troubled sense of humiliation and alienation from their affiliated parties – whether this or that.
As the election date nears, the popular mood has changed from that of a mixed feeling of indifference and willingness to a sense of responsibility and duty for strengthening the foundation of democracy from the grassroot level. The caste-like hierarchy (Bahun, Kshetri, Vaishya and Shudra) of Center, Zone, District and Village has now turned into a more 'monolithic' structure with the natural setting of Center on the top and the City or Village at the bottom level. Any voice coming from the top will be naturally heard at the bottom since there will be no intermediary agency screening it or diluting it. This change wrought by the new structure is thus phenomenal to say the least.
It is not that the leaders have not gauged the mind and heart of their voters. But recent political deveopments have taken very unsual courses hitherto unknown and unexpected. The voters are now told – 'Look folks, politics has many ups and downs, many colours, many dimensions and many modes to go. Unseen and unheard things can happen.' Nepali voters have to go a long way before they can predict the courses and be the part of political socilisation.
And, naturally enough, they don’t understand what is going on. Suppose, people, at this time enjoy a new identity – they are 'the voters'. They are serious; they are also conscientious and not stupid as their leaders might think they are. People have enough sense and they can smell what is being cooked in the political kitchen. Leaders must understand and think people cannot be fooled, at least not for long.
Factors like the long lasting political instability, emergence of a crowd of very selfish rank of leaders, lack of regular elections have created a large contingent of independent and common voters. There is also a large rank of first timers who were born after the last local level elections. Many of them are not committed to any party and are looking at new and sober faces that have no 'mask' and can deliver sincerely. This new group is likely to put the election stamp for such candidates. It is up to the crowd of candidates to convince them that they will deliver because they are different from the prototype, traditional and orthodox lot that prevailed before.
At this time, though, the fear is that many old faces with no credit, but worse track record are also in the list. People are also conerned about the latest development in the election arena – major political parties afraid of their own followers and voters in their own constituencies are trying not to fight on their own strength. The truth is: There is nothing much to claim, to show and to earn that trust. Hence, new techniques are being adopted such as new alliances. This has puzzled their voters and the parties are not consdidering this psychological issue.
The fact that very unsual alliances have been made in the past and repeated at the present only makes the voters more confused. When they see these incidents of the recent past people ask: How come our top leades hire very short-sighted advisors who fail to analyse the situation and diagnose the outcome properly? How come the two very opposite poles are forced to function together during the elections when their election manifestoes speak completely different language or see the society and its need from two opposite angles? Politics often is a food difficult to digest for a common sense human being like this scribe.
The media is reporting on regular basis that the tug of war between the executive and the judiciary organs of the government was of pretty low level. For some time even the legislative was pulled in in the fray. Things are more on the reform side now. For example, Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi has withdrawn his resignation to the pleasure of his party boss and the colleagues. Even RPP was guessed to be ready to followNidhi and give an explanation or two to 'accept the most latest political development as a natural growth of the process in a multiparty system.' This hypothesis is yet to be proved.
This week's developments ranging from the unexpected thaw in the relation between the former king and Kamal thapa, the return of CJ Sushila Karki, controversies on her court decision on a host of issues clouded the election scenario to some extent. Candidates have been pretending to ignore these developments and speeded up their campaigns day and night. In all, the scenario is that of a Féte because for many of them the election will decide their political Fate also.
Finally, this local election will go down in history as a historic occasion when millions of new voters will see how democracy works at the local level. This is also the first election after the restructuring of the state into seven provinces where the bone of contention as to the final sturcturing remains in place. The voters are enthusiastic to caste their ballot for political stability, development and democracy with the hope that the leaders will bury their minor differences on the ground. The election will also strengthen the spirit of nationality that sat at the back bench for a long time and needs vitality to sustain. External meddling in nearly all sphere has come to an end for Nepal to grow.
In all, this is time for celebration. A féte in true sense of the term is approaching!