RSS NEWS COMMENTARY: Nepal on verge of corporate politics

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KATHMANDU — Some days back, Chief Election Commissioner Dr Ayodhee Prasad Yadav urged the government authorities to monitor the extravagant election campaigning. During a discussion with concerned authorities in view of the imminent elections to the House of Representatives and Provincial parliaments, he expressed sheer dissatisfaction towards the spendthrift electioneering.

Similarly, after handing over government leadership to Sher Bahadur Deuba following the first round of local level election, Chairman of the CPN (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal observed that the election had become very costly. And thereby, he argued for fully proportional representation (PR) election system.

Use and misuse of money is so rife during election that it has been the mightiest tool to lure the voters. The money mongers, the middleman and brokers are now most active to persuade a leader and candidate against another and secure hefty amount as reward. With the scheduled elections of House of Representatives and provincial parliament- first in the mountainous and upper hilly districts on November 26 and second in the southern belt on December 7 round the corner, the party leaderships are busy with every possible strategy they could adopt to drub the rival parties.

In addition to virulent criticisms and flurry of blames on contenders while claiming everything good for self-defense and aggrandizement, the top leaders are conducting avian flights from east to west, south to north, thereby encouraging the supporters and cadres to ensure atmosphere for the respective party.

Together with the campaigning, publications including election manifestos have been eyesore to the voters. Along with this, the reports of secretive dealing of buying voters and cadres, and defecting parties are commonplace.

To a fledging republic, for establishment of the new set up of federal system and for the implementation of the constitution, elections are inevitable in Nepal. Development has been eluding for decades with the untiring fights for democracy and rights. This too necessitates the election- a filtering process, a process to propel democracy values and augment development activities.

But, in the name of election- a democratic exercise- isn’t it quite sickening to squander the money to influence voters? Actually where does the money come from? How was it earned- by diligence or by crooked practice? How do the election candidates pay back the money? Is this money all clean money? Are those without, and unable to mobilize money not qualified to be election candidate? Are political ideologies really dead before election? Several questions dog one while pondering the prodigal electioneering.

Moreover, the distribution of ticket (candidacies) is so abominable that nepotism and favouritism have plagued our political parties and leaders.

There are- you, your spouse, son, daughter, brother, brother-in-law, samdhi, contractors, industrialists, and traders. Are you taking a group photo? No, you are becoming new Royal, picketed by a group of people that protect you- the Royal You! It is reflected in candidacy distribution by most of the big parties. Those with devotion and contribution to party have been badly sidelined.

Not to forget, the proportional election system adopted after the second people’s movement also called loktantra, (a reformed democracy?!) in a bid to ensure political participation of marginalized people, caste and communities, was so botched up that the elite and industrialists of the backward communities captured the proportional quota.

None might have forgotten that when the leaders from various Madhes centric parties goofed up in direct election, they brought forth their wives and relatives in the proportional quota to represent in the parliament.

Despite this, taking everyone by surprise- surprise even to the rapacious leaders, Chairman of Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, Narayan Man Bijukchhe, announced that he would not contest an election anymore, but give opportunity to the new generation. His announcement has been widely appreciated in Nepali politics which has become a hostage of hoary leaders.

Responding to a query in this background, a sociologist and researcher Mr Dipesh Ghimire observed: “All these syndromes signal that Nepal’s politics is changing into a corporate politics. As the industrialists and contractors are entering politics with the influence of money, country’s politics is being handed to money owners.”

He further argued that one unable to spend less than Rs 50 million could not ensure his/her victory in the coming elections. Also the writer of ‘Political Corruption in Nepal’, Mr Ghimire added that these activities would lead to a rise in political criminalization in Nepal.

With the election turning costly and party leaders increasingly becoming nepotistic, where are the ideals of politics, and values of democracy? If election is a democratic exercise, why don’t Nepal’s parties make it a fair practice? RSS