Voters Swear To God
Candidates resort to a variety of tricks to sucker the people into voting for them. One of the most viable methods used to persuade them is the sweet and airy promises that are crammed into the election manifestos of the parties. They have not yet abandoned their old habit of making tall pledges despite knowing the fact that rational and informed voters hardly believe in them.
Nonetheless, there are also strange tactics where the voters are forced to swear to god so that they will not deceive the candidates to whom they have given word. The clever candidates recently experimented with this ploy on the superstitious and innocent guys to secure their votes in the rural areas of Jumla, Humla, Mugu, Dolpa and Kalikot. Ironically, the tricksters have come up trumps, thanks to the deceptive idea and gullible people.
A Nepali daily provides an interesting vignette of such canvassing in Chandannath Municipality-10 of Jumla. One evening, a group of NC cadres went to the house of Laxmi Devkota and asked her to vote for the NC. She assured them of their vote, but the NC guys were not convinced, so they compelled the family members to swear by a gong to make sure that they would vote for the said party.
“During the local polls, they had also asked us to touch the bell, and we swore and voted for them. This time, the candidate is from our own village. We have already sworn before god, so we will not break our word at any cost,” said Laxmi.
So is the case with Hari Kala Shahi of ward-9 of the same municipality. She said that cadres of all the parties visited her home, but the Maoist workers made her swear by the bell. “They forced most of the locals to swear by the ancestral deity. We stick to our promise. If we violate it, the god will be angry and bring disaster to us,” said Shahi.
The candidates mainly oblige the head of the family to make a promise by touching the sacred items. By the end of the poll campaign, the candidates surrender themselves before the shamans, witchdoctors and leaders of the village for they hold command over the common people, who are most likely to vote according to their instruction.
This story reminds this scribe of a similar trick adopted by a notorious pancha, late Hem Bahadur Malla, who was known as Shere Dhanusha. He was not educated but smart enough to manipulate voters in his favour. He won the elections and became minister several times during the Panchayat rule.
It was not only money and muscle power that he brought into play to secure his victory in the election. A story in circulation was that when Malla was not sure of his people, he took them en masse to the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu in big trucks and made them swear by the biggest Hindu almighty. They hardly betrayed the Shere Dhanusha for fear of the wrath of the god.
It is indeed a matter of big shame that the politicians still take recourse to a primitive yet coercive method to bag votes even after ushering in the democratic republic. It is a gross violation of human rights to force the innocent voters to cast their ballot for a particular candidate by stoking the fear of divinity.