Khagendra N Sharma
Every political element gained from the two phases of the local level election, but the RashtriyaJanata Party (RJP) lost the greatest opportunity to gain back the trust of the people they claim to represent. The second phase was specially designed to facilitate the participation of the RJP by postponing the election dates not once but three times. Two Forums, one led by BijayaGachchhadar and the other led by UpendraYadav, left the so-called MadhesiMorcha and actively participated in the election. Irrespective of the electoral victory by number, they have registered a political track in the mind of the people particularly in the Terai areas. But the RJP’s decision to stay away has isolated them from the warmth of the people’s support in the near future.
The two phases of local level election have had a grand success in several respects. The most glaring aspect is the enthusiasm of the people. They had this opportunity in the gap of two decades. This time the local level had come with much greater resources and power in an extended territory. This was going to end the long frustration of having to put up with open corruption in collusion with irresponsible political mechanism and unaccountable government officials. This was the opening for the realization of the aspirations of the people to develop their surrounding through new leadership. People were not deterred by the discomfort of the scorching sun ordaunting rain. The enthusiasm for participation was so high that even centenarians cast their vote. The percentage of voting exceeded all previous records. The election was celebrated as a festival.
The third phase of local level election is dueon the eighteenth September, but its success is a foregone conclusion irrespective of the participation or otherwise of the RJP. The RJP have lost the potential of destabilizing the election because the people are not likely to support them.At this stage it is not certain whether the RJP will participate in the third phase although this opportunity was deliberately created to facilitate their participation. They have watched the two phases of election, understandably with saliva in their tongue for the missed opportunity.
It is a moment of great dilemma for the RJP. They have their demands and preconditions on the one hand. If they shun their preconditions and decide to participate, there is the danger of losing their image. On the other hand, there is the danger of widening the gulf between them and the people which is already perilously present because of their boycott of the two phases. It was a great loss in the journey of political struggle. Their destination is far from being achieved. Are they now ready to board the bus to make the journey to their avowed destination? If they decide to boycott the third phase election, they will have lost all the opportunity to regain their lost power. This depends on their selection of a new course which they will have to make before the election process for the third phase is started.
It may be pertinent here to ask what achievements the local election has made. It has made some landmark success. The most prominent among them is that it has earmarked the federalization in the practical sense. The seven provinces have in fact come into existence. The election was conducted on a provincial basis.Until now Nepal was performing on a unitary state basis except that high courts were raised at sub national level. But that did not meet the pre-requisite of a federal state. Appellate courts can be opened even in unitary state. But the local levels have been created now on a provincial basis.
The second important achievement is that Nepal is developing on a three party model. The participation of the RJP could have made it a four party model, but they missed that opportunity. In fact, the six parties that merged to create a single party missed the opportunity of working on a collective basis. The RJP can inaugurate its collective existence if it decides to participate in the third phase election. They should learn at least from the fact that many of their active cadres decided to participate in the second phase as independent candidates leaving the RJP.
The third landmark achievement of the local election is that the country can now conduct the provincialand federal level elections with full confidence within the stipulated time frame. All apprehensions about internal and external disturbances have been systematically quailed by using three prong security. Now, the existence of the local level elected machinery has given the people the full confidence that our democracy is a functioning reality. Nepal has lost a lot in the political instability, but now the trend has been U-turned. Now the people will start acting like real sovereign.
The fourth achievement of the local election is that it has now opened the way for development and progress. Local leadership and people’s participation are the standard indicators of local development. There will be additional support from the national or provincial levels. Local units will be equipped with adequate manpower to plan and execute development projects. Additional technical support can be mobilized from the centre. All round development is now possible. With the local people acting as watchdog, the prevailing rampant corruption will come under control.
The RJP’s ex-comrade UpendraYadav has time and again reminded the RJP that they missed a great opportunity by boycotting the election. They still have a chance of correcting their course by participating in the third phase election which is being conducted in Province No 2, the purported native place of the Madhesi people. That will give them a fresh opportunity to gain the trust of the people, especially the Madhes based people. If they miss this opportunity by resorting to boycott, it will be their biggest blunder. They must realize that their demand for amending the constitution is not possible because of the lack of the two thirds majority support in the Parliament. They must also realize that amending the constitution is a continuing process in a democracy. We must look for the future. Or else there will be nothing left for the RJP except regretting the missed bus.