Preferred Political Forces
The results of the second phase of the local polls held quite successfully on June 28 have been coming thick and fast. The successful completion of the polls is an indicative of the fact that the Nepalese voters are very keen to cast their votes to elect their local representatives. The voting pattern of the second round of local polls has suggested that the largest number of voters of the country have given their mandate to the political forces with two basic principles- the one with democratic credentials and the another with communist ideals. The parties that have so far stood first, second and third belong to the parties embracing these very principles.
The Nepali Congress is the party that has largely been credited for embracing democratic principle and is regarded to be at the forefront of every political upheaval or change the nation has witnessed so far. The CPN-UML that has so far stood first in the local polls (both first and second round of polls) is the party founded on the communist ideals. This party has however undergone a sea-change in its ideals- it is not as hardcore a communist party as it used to be in the past.
Principally, it has embraced several of democratic values after joining the multiparty democratic polity. However, the party that has won the third position so far- the Maoist (Centre) is still regarded a hardcore communist that has yet to give up its hardcore communist principles.
The inclination of the voters this time is clearly towards the parties that have embraced the democratic values. They have apparently rejected the hardcore communist and other forces that are receiving lifeline through their regional or ethnicity based politics. The Maoist (Centre) has been pushed to a distant third while the Madhes-centric and ethnic parties- Forum Loktantrik and Sanghiya Samajwadi Party have faced an uphill task in winning local elections at their own turfs in Madhes. The pro-royalist party- the RPP- too has been pushed aside by the voters as the party struggled hard during the local elections.
Obviously, the voters have bestowed vital mandate to the two parties- the Nepali Congress, the largest party in the Legislature Parliament, and the UML, the second largest and the main opposition party. One should not fail to notice that the UML has emerged the winner over the largest party in the Parliament in the two phases of local polls. In a way, the UML has repeated the feat it had displayed during the local elections held 20 years ago in the nation. Then, the UML had swept the results throughout the nation pushing the Congress to the second position. However, this time, the margin of the winning over the Congress is thin.
According to an estimate based on the ongoing vote counting of the second round local polls, analysts say that the victory margin of the UML over the Congress would not extend beyond a maximum of 15 to 20 seats of total 334 local units. Though many had thought that the Congress would be a runaway winner in the second round local polls, there are reasons that have turned the UML into a leader in the local polls. The UML Chair's pro nationalist stance vis-à-vis Madhesi parties' general strike in the Terai region and the Indian blockade over the implementation of the new constitution are touted as the basic reason behind the UML winning over the hearts and minds of the considerable number of the educated voters.
Critics say that the Nepali Congress's failure in terming the blockade a blockade, its "misstep" in bringing impeachment motion against the then chief justice, and its failure to show the door to then highly controversial CIAA Chief are some of the reasons that turned away many "neutral" voters towards the UML. After forming coalition government with the Maoist (Centre) the parties failed to introduce immediate relief measures to the people. Also, the Congress lacked charismatic leaders during the electioneering time to convince the voters not to be "misled" by the UML's pro-nationalist sloganeering. The anti-incumbency factor along with internal sabotage might have other reasons that have pushed the two major ruling coalition partners- the Nepali Congress and the Maoist-Centre- to the second and the third positions in the local elections this time too.
On the whole, the local polls have indicated that democratic and communist forces are the leading parties of the nation. However, the second phase of election must have sent chill down the spine of the non-participating Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N). The voters and the participating political parties have foiled their bid to disrupt the polls. The RJP was left in an awkward position after other Madhes-centric parties decided to take part in this local elections.
After failing to take part in the election due to their own boycott, the RJP has missed the major opportunity to send their representatives in the many of the local units in the Terai region. It will have to wait for another local election. No one knows for sure what fate the RJP will suffer till the next local election will be due. Clearly, other parties have made merry in the absence of the RJP. Another cause of concern for the RJP is many of the RJP members who contested the second round of elections as independent candidates could not fare well. This also indicates that the voters in the Madhes have not bought the RJP arguments.
The RJP leaders appear to have come to their senses now. They have now opted to register their party at the Election Commission. This has obviously been done in order to take part in the third round of local elections scheduled in the Province No.2, which is a Madhesi population dominated province. The leaders must have hoped to do better in the local elections to be held in this region in September. They have now felt that if they will boycott the third phase of elections, they will find their party nowhere in the nation's local politics, which is the base for the provincial and national level politics. The two rounds of local elections, which the RJP had boycotted, demanding the amendment in the constitution, must have opened the eye of its leaders regarding the importance of the local elections which is being held on a wholly different political environment of present times.