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Who will form government in Nepal?

A coalition government is inevitable since no party is going to secure the magic number on its own, a report by Santosh Ghimire

As vote counting for the recently held elections enters its final stage, all are eyeing on who will eventually form the government.

Nepal held elections to federal parliament and provincial assemblies on Sunday this week. This was the second time Nepalis voted for the general elections after the promulgation of a republican constitution in 2015.

Out of a total of 275 members of the federal Parliament, 165 are to be elected through direct voting (first-past-the-post) and the remaining 110 are to be elected through proportional representation (PR) category. Similarly, out of a total of 550 members of the provincial assemblies, 330 are to be elected directly and 220 are to be elected through the PR system.

The Nepali Congress and the CPN (UML), which have emerged as the first and second largest force in parliament, are openly staking their claims for the leadership of the government. Both are eager keen to form government under their own leadership by bringing other parties onboard.

At least 138 parliamentary seats are required to form a majority government. In the present situation, no party is going to secure the magic number on its own. Hence, a coalition government is inevitable, according to political observers.

(Photo: India Narrative)

These are possible three scenarios in the post-election scenario:

First scenario: Continuity of existing alliance


The Nepali Congress wants to keep the current ruling alliance intact and take the government leadership. The CPN (Maoist Center), the CPN (Unified Socialist), the Rastriya Jana Morcha and the Madhes-centric Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP) are the members of this alliance. This is also called ‘democratic-left’ alliance.

But the ruling alliance will have a big challenge to meet the required number of seats in parliament. It will therefore be dependent either on newer or smaller parties, according to experts.

“The existing ruling coalition will remain intact if it gets parliamentary backing from new parties like Rastriya Swatantra Party in parliament,” Sitaram Baral, a political analyst based in Kathmandu, told India Narrative.

As per the projections, the Nepali Congress is likely to secure 80 seats, the CPN (Maoist Center) 30 seats and the CPN (Unified Socialist) 10 seats, Loktantrik Samajbadi Party 10 seats and Rastriya Janamorcha one seat.

The combined parliamentary seats of the ruling alliance could be just around 130 and it won’t be enough to muster majority in parliament to form the government. Hence, the Deuba-led alliance will have to seek support either from newer parties like Rashtriya Swatantra Party (RSP) and pro-monarchy Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP).

Another challenge for the ruling coalition will be on power sharing, especially picking a common candidate for the post of prime minister. Broadly, there are two strong contenders for the post of prime minister-the incumbent PM Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Prachanda.

Apart from that, even within the Nepali Congress, other leaders like Gagan Thapa, Ramchandra Poudel and Shashanka Koirala are also projecting themselves as future prime minister, which can put Deuba in trouble.

The second scenario: Communist-dominated government

In such a scenario, Nepal may get a communist-dominated coalition government in which pro-monarchy forces and smaller parties will be also a player. There might be a coalition among the CPN (UML), CPN (Maoist Center), Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) and the pro-monarchy Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP). The communists may also bring other smaller parties including Nagarik Unmukti Party (NUP) and Janamat Party on board to ensure comfortable majority in parliament.

Although cross-party talks are yet to begin on the formation of the government, the main opposition the CPN (UML), on his part, has already initiated talks for the same. On Wednesday, UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli telephoned CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal to explore such possibilities.

Third scenario

There could be an unlikely alliance between the Nepali Congress and the UML to form the government. But according to analysts, the alliance is theoretically possible but is seems unlikely at this point of time.

“If the two parties come together, they can comfortably secure majority in parliament. But for now, such alliance is unlikely,” analyst Baral said.

Kingmakers

The Prachanda-led CPN (Maoist Center), Laimchhane-led Rashtriya Swatantra Party (RSP) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) will be kingmakers in the formation of the new government in the post-election context. However, RSP has shown little interest to join the government at least for now.

NC leading vote tally followed by UML

As the vote counting progresses, the chief ruling party Nepali Congress is in the first position with 44 seats and leading in 10 seats while the main opposition the CPN (UML) is in the second position with 34 seats and leading in 11 seats under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) category as of Friday afternoon.

Under the proportionate representation (PR) category, the UML is in the first position with 1,121,221 votes followed by the Congress party with 1,063,957 votes.

Two key players in the Congress-led government – CPN (Maoist Center) and the CPN (Unified Socialist)-are performing poorly in the vote tally under the FPTP category. The Maoist party is in the distant third position with 12 seats and leading in six seats while CPN (Unified Socialist) is in in the fourth position with just 10 seats.

The newly-formed Rastriya Swatantra Party is in the fifth position by gaining seven seats and leading in one seat under the FPTP category. However, the party has maintained third position in terms of proportionate representation (PR) category with 531,520 votes, leaving behind the CPN (Maoist) and the CPN (Unified Socialist) who have garnered 486,091 and 80,302 votes respectively.

Electoral alliance didn’t work

The CPN (Maoist Center) and the CPN (Unified Socialist), which went into polls under the ruling Congress-led alliance, have concluded that the electoral alliance didn’t really benefit them in the present election.

“As election results are halfway, we are realizing that the votes of Nepali Congress have not been transferred to other coalition partners including the Maoist Center. This time most Maoist Centre, Unified Socialist and Janamorcha candidates are far behind in vote tally while most Congress party candidates won elections,” Haribol Gajurel, a key leader of the Maoist party told India Narrative.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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Will new Chinese envoy unify Nepal communists?

The new Chinese ambassador is expected to take up his diplomatic assignment in late December, one official familiar with the development said…reports Asian Lite News

China has named Chen Song as its next ambassador to Nepal.

According to officials at Nepal’s foreign ministry, the Chinese side has notified them about their decision to designate Chen as next ambassador to Kathmandu.

Chen is currently one of the five deputy director generals at the Asian Affairs Department of Chinese foreign ministry. He oversees China’s relations with South Asian countries including Nepal, the Maldives and Afghanistan.

The new Chinese ambassador is expected to take up his diplomatic assignment in late December, one official familiar with the development said.

The new envoy’s nomination comes a month after then Chinese ambassador Hou Yanqi returned to Beijing completing her four-year tenure in Kathmandu.

The ambassador courted controversies for her intermediary role in bringing the two warring factions of the then ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) together when the party’s internal crisis was at its peak in 2020. Much to China’s chagrin, the NCP saw a vertical split in March 2021 after the Supreme Court’s verdict.

Ambassador Hou has been nominated as China’s next ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Chen, the new Chinese ambassador, will reach Kathmandu at a time when political parties will be in the process of forming a post-election government.

A Chinese watcher said that Beijing hopes to see a friendly government in the post-election period that can potentially advance its interests in Nepal.

“For the new ambassador, it will not be an easy task to advance Chinese interests amid the post-election flux,” he told India Narrative.

In his opinion, China’s number one priority is to check the growing American influence in Kathmandu and the new ambassador will work towards this end.

“If current Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba returns to power after elections, Beijing fears the American influence may further grow in Nepal,” observed.

Apart from that, Beijing wishes to push infrastructure projects in Nepal under the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) once the new dispensation is in place.

The Deuba-led present government, despite China’s repeated calls, rejected accepting commercial loans for rail-road connectivity projects under the BRI fearing a “debt trap”.

(Santosh Ghimire is the Nepal correspondent of India Narrative based in Kathmandu)

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Rise of 3 new parties could upset Nepal’s traditional alliances

Analysts said that the RSP can shape the power equation in the post-election scenario if it continues to make significant electoral gains in the final vote tally, breaking the hegemony of bigger parties…writes Santosh Ghimire

As the vote counting for elections to Nepal’s House of Representatives and seven provincial assemblies  is underway, three new political parties are making the mark by making electoral gains in constituencies where traditional parties-maintained stronghold for at least two decades.

The little-known Rashtriya Swatantra Party (RSP), Janamat Party and Nagarik Unmukti Party have broken into the national political scene as they have been dominating election results in several constituencies in the ongoing vote count.

Analysts said that the RSP can shape the power equation in the post-election scenario if it continues to make significant electoral gains in the final vote tally, breaking the hegemony of bigger parties.

“The RSP can become a kingmaker in the upcoming power equation if it makes significant electoral gains in the final vote tally. But it would be too early to say that because the vote counting is still underway,” Jhalak Subedi, a Kathmandu-based author and political analyst, told India Narrative.

Nepal went into federal parliament and provincial assembly elections on Nov 20. This was the second time the country held general elections after the promulgation of the constitution in 2015.

Out of a total of 275 members of the federal Parliament, 165 are to be elected through direct voting (first-past-the-post) and the remaining 110 are to be elected through proportional representation (PR) category. Similarly, out of a total of 550 members of the provincial legislatures, 330 are to be elected directly and 220 are to be elected through the PR system.

New political party emerges in Nepal.(photo:Instagram)

Rashtriya Swatantra Party in spotlight

The RSP formed by Ravi Lamichhane, a former TV anchor who came to the spotlight by highlighting public issues, has won at least three seats under the House of Representatives in key constituencies in Kathmandu, the federal capital.

RSP’s candidates who won elections are below 40 including Sobita Gautam, 27. She emerged victorious in Kathmandu-2 by defeating her close rival Onsari Gharti, a former speaker and wife of powerful Maoist leader Barshaman Pun.

Despite Gharti being a common candidate of the ruling electoral alliance, Gautam secured her victory in this crucial constituency, which remained a bastion of the communist parties for at least two decades. This is the same constituency where Madhav Kumar Nepal, a former prime minister, contested with the Maoists in 2008 elections.

Apart from Kathmandu, the RSP is taking lead in Lalitpur and Chitwan as the vote counting progressed. RSP Chairman Lamichhane is close to secure his victory in Chitwan-2.

Not only under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) category, the RSP is taking lead in the vote counting for the proportionate representation (PR) category of the lower house. According to Nepal’s Election Commission, the RSP is in the third position by bagging 1, 11,394 votes under the PR category.

On the political front, the RSP has taken a tough stand on the country’s existing federal system. The party deliberately skipped the provincial assembly elections this time showing reservations towards the country’s present federal structure. However, this may not go well in Nepal’s Madhes region where people are seeking for a greater political and administrative autonomy under the same federal structure.

Janamat Party’s rise in Madhes

As the vote counting for the elections continues, the newly-formed Janamat Party led by CK Raut is making electoral gains in Madhes, challenging the two dominant parties—Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) and Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP).

Raut, chairman of Janamati Party, has defeated Upendra Yadav, a powerful leader in Madhes region, who rose to power after the 2008 Madhes uprising that saw killings of dozens of Madhesi people at the hands of police during violent clashes.

Raut joined mainstream politics by quitting the secessionist movement in 2019 March following an agreement with the then KP Oli-led government. Since then, Raut tried to make significant inroads in the Terai-Madhes southern plains, which has a close socio-cultural connect with India.

The rise of Janamat Party is also not good news for traditional parties like the Nepali Congress which have preeminence in the region over the past at least three decades.

After the present elections, Janamat Party is likely to emerge as a new alternative political force in the Madhes region.

Tharu voters in throwing weight behind NUP

Apart from Kathmandu and Madhes region, the political landscape of Nepal’s far-western region is also changing. A new political force is likely to gain electoral gains through present elections by cashing in on the sentiments of Tharu community, an indigenous minority group.

As the vote counting is underway, the Nagarik Unmukti Party (NUP) founded by Resham Chaudhary, is taking lead in at least three seats under the House of Representatives.

The Tharu community, which threw its weight behind the NUP for its stand against the traditional parties during the local elections held in May, is giving yet another opportunity in the present elections. In the last elections the Tharu-dominated Nagarik Unmukti Party secured dozens of seats in local units in Kailali and Kanchanpur.

Also Read: https://www.indianarrative.com/world-news/how-tharu-community-has-become-a-player-in-nepals-upcoming-elections-70432.html

Frustration towards old guard

Analysts said that the rise of newer parties reflects people’s growing resentment towards traditional parties who have been at the helm of central power for at least three decades.

“People voted for newer parties this time as they are tired of old parties and nasty businesses of their leaders in the guise of politics. The election results show people’s desire for a minimum change in the political leadership at least for now,” Subedi, the political analyst said.

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Nepal sees emergence of new political party

If the current trend continues, the RSP will win at least 20 in federal parliament…reports Asian Lite News

The National Independent Party, or Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP), led by TV host-turned politician Rabi Lamichhane, is emerging as a new political force in Nepal following the federal and provincial elections held earlier this week.

According to preliminary results, the party is likely to win considerable seats under the proportional representation which is dubbed as huge disenchantment against the established political forces.

It has already won three seats in Kathmandu Valley and is leading in at least five federal constituencies, Chitwan represented by Lamichhane.

Although the elections on Sunday were held in 165 federal constituencies, no political party has contested in all electoral constituencies.

But the RSP that is against the idea of federalism, has not contested the elections in provincial parliament.

Ruling party Nepali Congress is leading the overall tally in both federal and provincial constituencies.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has won the election from his home constituency, Dadheldura, for a record seventh time in a row.

He was challenged Sagar Dhakal, an independent candidate.

The CPN-UML is trailing behind Nepali Congress in the overall tally, whereas the RSP is in third position.

The CPN (Maoist Center) has not won a single seat as of Wednesday, but is leading in 16 constituencies.

The RSP is trailing behind Nepali Congress and UML in vote under the proportional representation too.

Lamichhane, who used to run a popular television program in Nepal, has raised his voice against corruption, mismanagement, bad governance, plights of the migrant workers working in the Gulf and Malaysia and holes created by the mainstream political parties.

“We have not decided to join the government but we are encouraged and thrilled by the votes we received, said Lamichanne. Nation needs a strong opposition,” said Lamichanne in an interview.

If the current trend continues, the RSP will win at least 20 in federal parliament.

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Deuba wins for 7th time

Nepal has recorded a low voter turnout of 61 per cent for the elections to the House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly held on Sunday….reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister and President of the Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba on Wednesday was elected for the consecutive 7th time from the home district of Dhankuta.

PM of the caretaker government got 25 thousand 534 votes and defeated his competitor Sagar Dhakal, who garnered 13 thousand and 42 votes for the post of member of the House of Representatives.

The counting of votes started on Monday for the parliamentary and provincial elections held in Nepal on November 20.

Nepal has recorded a low voter turnout of 61 per cent for the elections to the House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly held on Sunday.

According to Nepal’s Election Commission, around 61 per cent of voters cast their votes in the parliamentary and provincial polls held on November 20.

Addressing a press briefing on November 20, Nepal’s Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya said that 61 per cent voter turnout was based on the preliminary data.

Thapaliya stated that the percentage could increase when all the data is gathered. However, he noted, “However, this voter turnout is less than what the EC had expected.” He said that elections were held peacefully across the nation except for some incidents of violence.

Nepali voters headed for the periodic general election with the hope of a “stable government and development.”

It is the second general election since the promulgation of the constitution in 2015.

The earlier round of the elections conducted in 2017 failed to meet the expectations of Nepali voters as the government didn’t last for long.

With two house dissolution attempts by the then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Nepal plunged into a political crisis and chaos.

Notably, 2412 candidates are contesting for the House of Representatives under the First-Past-The-Post system (FPTP) while 2,199 candidates are vying for Proportional Representation (PR). Furthermore, 3,224 candidates are running under the Province Assembly under the FPTP system, and 3,708 under PR.

A total of 80,567,500 ballot papers were printed and transported to the designated polling centres for the twin elections. A team of the body to manage elections including chief election commissioners of neighbouring India, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives and election commissioners of Sri Lanka and South Korea observed the voting.

Representatives from 18 diplomatic missions in Nepal observed the elections. Furthermore, a total of 7,219 people from 44 national and 12 from two international organizations observed the elections to help enhance the credibility of the election.

The observers supervised the elections in 165 constituencies of the House of Representatives and 330 constituencies of the Provincial Assembly. (ANI)

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Nepal all set for national elections

Nepal is all set to go to the polls on Sunday which will elect a total 825 representatives to the federal and provincial assemblies for a second time after the Himalayan nation adopted federalism in 2015.

“We have prepared all necessary preparations in order to hold the elections in a free, fair and transparent manner,” Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Thapaliya said.

The new government will be formed at the centre and in all seven provinces. Some high-profile appointments like that of a President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Speaker will be made following the results.

According to the Election Commission, a total 1,79,88,570 voters are eligible to elect the 165 federal and 220 provincial assemblies representatives through the first-past-the-post (FPTS) election system.

Another 110 seats of the federal parliament will be elected through the proportional representation system.

The strength of the House of Representatives is 275.

Similarly, for federal assemblies, the elections will be conducted for 330 seats under the FPTS system and 220 sets of candidates will be elected under the provision of proportional representation.

Home Secretary Binod Singh said that all required security arrangements are in place to ensure free, fair and transparent elections and urged the voters to cast their ballots without any fear and intimidation.

Around 300,000 security personnel including those from the Nepal Army, Armed Police Force, National Intelligence Department and temporary police will be deployed to guard the elections, according to the Home Ministry.

Addressing the media on Friday, the Home Secretary reiterated that any individual, group or organisation likely to jeopardise the election staffs, voters and ballot safety is under surveillance.

“Some sporadic incidents were reported ahead of the elections in the midst of election boycotts by some outfits. Those who have announced to boycott the elections do not impose any threat for holding elections successfully,” he added.

The Election Commission also stated that all managerial works related to election were completed.

Altogether 7,219 observers, national and internationals, have been deployed.

Additionally, representatives of 18 foreign diplomatic missions in Nepal will also monitor the election on voting day.

It is expected that results under the FPTS system will be announce within a few days, while vote count of proportional representation is expected to take some time, according to the Commission.

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Explosions rock Nepal ahead of polls

One person is injured in the incident in Bhojpur District..reports Asian Lite News

One person was injured after two explosions occurred in Nepal ahead of the General election which is slated to take place on Sunday.

With 72 hours left for the polling day, the Dolakha and Bhojpur District of the Himalayan Nation recorded the explosion which the Police claim to be caused by explosives.

One person is injured in the incident in Bhojpur District.

“We are investigating. We got the information that there was an explosion at a garbage site,” Deputy Superintendent of Police of Dolakha, Ganga Paudel confirmed ANI over the phone.

Likewise, a bomb exploded near the election campaign event due to be attended by CPN-Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Wednesday.

As per the Police, the bomb carried by a person exploded near the election campaign venue at Tiwari Bhanjyang in Bhojpur, a venue where Prachanda was participating to address an election rally.

SP Navinraj Rai of Province 1 Police Office informed that the cause of the explosion is yet to be ascertained.

No casualty has been reported in the incident.

“We got the report about the incident, a person has been taken into custody in connection with the incident, and further investigation is going on,” SP Rai said.

Prachanda reached Bhojpur on Wednesday while participating in programs held at various places in Province 1.

Nepal on Sunday will be electing new members for its House of Representatives as well as the province assemblies. The silence period for the election is set to start past midnight on Thursday. (ANI)

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Nepal local bodies train people to save lives during disaster

The SUPER project has been launched in Dhangadi and Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan city, Amargadhi, Jay Prithivi Municipality since August of 2021 coordinating with local levels…reports Asian Lite News

Faheen Salmani, a 20-year-old woman, is hailed as a saviour in her locality after the incident of controlled gas-leakage, saving locality and adjoining District Jail.

The shared knowledge about fire control training which she got to know from her mother and its practical implementation helped douse the fire, saving lives and properties.

“My mother was attending training at Madrasa where she was taught about controlling the kitchen fire. She used to brief me about the learnings and demonstrations shown there like if a cooking gas cylinder catches fire it should be doused off by covering it with a wet cloth or placing a bucket over it,” Salmani said.

“Coincidently, a few days later father brought a new cylinder home, in due course of time while fitting the regulator on top of the gas cylinder it caught fire. I was in my room and everyone was panicking outside, they forgot the way to control and douse the fire. I enacted the learnings passed on from my mother and doused the fire by rounding a wet shawl over the cylinder,” Salmani recalled the day of the incident.

Faheen’s mother, Nazma had undergone training about controlling kitchen fires which was undertaken at Dhangadhi Sub-Metropolitan City’s co-ordination under the Strengthening Urban Preparedness, Earthquake Preparedness and Response in Western Region of Nepal (SUPER) project.

But when the incident occurred she fretted but Faheen came forward executing the knowledge provided by her mother which saved the community.

“I was panicking also her (Faheen) father, as the cylinder was on fire. But those things which I earlier had shared with her, she remembered and acted quickly. She also asked us not to panic and following the instructions which I was given during training doused the fire,” Nazma told ANI as she sat on her Charpai where she was resting on the day of the incident.

The SUPER project has been launched in Dhangadi and Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan city, Amargadhi, Jay Prithivi Municipality since August of 2021 coordinating with local levels. It is being funded by the European Union with UNDP, UNICEF and UN Women working as consortium members.

According to reports, around 265,000 people die due to fire-related incidents in the world. More than half of them are from South and Southeast Asia. According to estimated data in 2008, around 55,000 people are affected by fire-related incidents every year. Out of these, around 2,100 people die every year in Nepal.

Most of these incidents have happened in the kitchen. People have been injured while cooking in open fires where women’s and men’s clothes have caught fire. “The scene that took place in my home came to the attention of everyone and my actions were spread out to others which indeed is beneficial for others as well,” added Faheen.

Data from Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs (1971- 2018) revealed that in the last 50 or so years there has been a total of 12,694 fire incidents that have killed 1,755 and injured 2,176 individuals, affected 265,962 families, and damaged 90,044 houses.

In 2018 alone, 87 people were killed and 342 injured in 2,478 fire incidents. In addition, 1,857 houses were destroyed and 291 damaged, causing a financial loss of around 3.96 billion. The estimated property loss associated with climate-induced disasters was approximately NPR 6.84 billion, and about 94 per cent of that loss can be attributed to fire incidents.

According to data from the Provincial Emergency Operation Centre in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Law, in Sudurpaschim Province, the province recorded approximately 194 fire-related incidents from July/August 2021 till August, 2022.

“Female members of the family are more bound to work in the kitchen and the incidents of fire are on the rise at the time of floods also the women, children and elderlies need to be alerted before. This SUPER project has helped people a lot when it comes to the phase of exercising,” Kandakala Kumari Rana, the deputy mayor of Dhangadhi sub-metropolitan city told ANI.

The Dhangadi Sub-metropolitan city has been operating Municipal Emergency Operation Center to deal with instances other than the fire which runs high during the summer season, floods and heavy rain during monsoon amongst others.

Dhangadhi which is the provincial capital of Sudurpaschim (Far-Western) Province of Nepal hosts most non-engineered houses which stand dangerously close to one another, facing imminent disaster threats.

Looking at the imminent threat, the Sub-metropolitan has established a LEOC (Local Emergency Operation Center) which aims to collect and disseminate right information to the public at the time of disaster.

The LEOC room hosts members of fire brigades who would quickly get into action after getting reports of fire as well as the weather monitoring desk which at the time of monsoon would give early warning to people and other possible disasters.

The local body now has hundreds of trained personnel to work in the field of disaster risk management which range from various age groups to sects of society ready to be mobilized at the time of disaster. (ANI)

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Independents make their mark in Deuba’s home turf

As general elections are approaching nearer, the electorate in the province is grappling with several questions especially related to tardy economic growth…writes Santosh Ghimire

 A sense of frustration is brewing in Sudurpaschim Province, the home turf of Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, where the youth, disenchanted with traditional political parties, is looking at independent candidates as drivers for change.

Formed in September 2015 after Nepal’s new constitution was promulgated, the border province shares its frontiers with China to the north, Karnali and Lumbini Provinces to the east. India’s Kumaon falls to the west and Uttar Pradesh to the south.

Politically too, the outcome of the results in the November 20 polls in the province can change the complexion of the government at the centre. Sixteen seats are up for grabs under the first past and post electoral system. Eight seats will be contested under the proportional electoral system in federal parliament. The provincial assembly has 52 seats of which 32 are under the proportional electoral system.

The province has been a bastion of the key political parties including the Congress. But, the number of independent candidates has grown sharply in recent years. At least over a dozen independents have fielded candidacies only in Kailali-5 for federal assembly polls. There are also independent candidates in the fray for provincial assembly polls in the same constituency.

Tharu, an indigenous tribe, has a sizable population in the province, leading most all parties to get on their side, Tharu voters who can make a huge impact in election outcomes, observers said.

Sudurpaschim is a home province of Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. His home constituency is Dadeldhura. He won general elections at least four times from the same constituency in the past three decades. This time also he is an election candidate from the same area.

Rallies and campaigns have intensified across the province ahead of the crucial elections that are being held for the second time after the country promulgated its first federal republican constitution in 2015. The first such elections happened in 2017.

Local political observers and media people from the province, with whom the India Narrative spoke to also expressed their frustration about the slow pace of development.

As general elections are approaching nearer, the electorate in the province is grappling with several questions especially related to tardy economic growth.

“I have watched the performance of all the political parties in recent years and found no substantive difference. Development works in our part are taking place at a very snail pace, it takes years to complete the construction of a bridge,” Ganesh Bista, an auto-rickshaw driver who lives in Mohanpur, Dhangadhi, told India Narrative on Saturday. In his opinion, all the major parties seem to have abandoned whatever guiding political ideology they had.

“I see their focus is just on winning elections, forming the government, enriching their party and leaders, and prolonging the life of their government. The common people like us are not their priority at all,” he said, venting ire on traditional parties. The man accused the political parties of doing nothing other than earning money and grabbing power. “I feel that all political leaders and their parties are the same. Their interest is in nothing other than money and power,” he said.



As traditional parties are losing faith in the public, there could be good prospects for independent candidates. Recent local elections held in May have also pointed to this budding trend. Gopal Hamal, an independent candidate, won the mayoral race in the local elections in Dhangadhi sub-metropolitan city, which is also the capital of Sudurpaschim Province.

“Hamal is now earning praise for various initiatives that he took in recent times including the widening of roads and managing the city’s drainage system,” Ram Prasad Joshi, a local resident of Saraswatinagar, told India Narrative.

The perception of the aforementioned auto-rickshaw driver and a local resident, of course, can’t represent the feelings of all voters in the province. But observers agree that the public trust in political parties has declined sharply for several reasons.

“It’s true that public trust in political parties has deteriorated because they have failed to live up to their promises that made in previous elections. Political party leaders come to meet people just ahead of elections for nothing other than seeking votes. This sort of tendency has invited frustration among the voters,” Prakash Bhatta, a social worker-turned businessman based in Dhangadhi, told India Narrative.

He said that the province is also detached from the federal capital Kathmandu, emotionally, geographically and politically.

“People feel that there is no direct link between them and Kathmandu. That means political parties are Kathmandu-centric and doing very little to their well-being,” Bhatta, who also contested general elections in the past, said.


Good prospect for independents

He sees good prospect for independent candidates in future elections. “More independent candidates will emerge victorious in local, provincial assembly and federal elections if traditional parties don’t introspect and work in meeting people’s aspirations as per the changed context,” Bhatta added.

Youths say there is a choice if the upcoming election is used as an opportunity to upend the hegemony of the major parties and usher in a new era in the political development.

“We are not happy with the political culture of these traditional parties. Its high time we young men and women formed new parties and challenged the older parties, thus providing an alternative to voting for the major parties’ yes men,” Bimal Regmi, a 27-year-old youth from Purnarbas, told India Narrative.

Deuba, Oli visit Sudurpaschim

As part of his election campaign, PM Deuba, along with his wife Arzu, reached his constituency Dadeldhura on Saturday. In the photo that Deuba shared on Twitter, he was seen greeted by hundreds of his party leaders and cadres.

KP Sharma Oli, leader of the CPN (UML), the main opposition, who is also former prime minister, on Friday, launched his election campaign from Darchula, a district in Sudurpaschim Province. Oli was also seen greeted by hundreds of his party leaders and cadres when he addressed rallies.

In their election rallies in Dadeldhura and Darchula, Deuba and Oli both vaguely said they would bring socio-economic transformation of the country if they regained power through upcoming polls.

As the Deuba and Oli visited Sudurpaschim Province, youths looked at them with suspicion. The similarity between the two top leaders was that both of them claimed to settle a boundary row with India through diplomatic talks if they made a comeback through upcoming elections.

(Santosh Ghimire is India Narrative’s Nepal correspondent. He is currently reporting from the India-Nepal border on the upcoming November 20 elections)

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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Election fever grips Nepal’s Madhes Province

Deuba’s Nepali Congress and Oli’s CPN (UML) likely to make big electoral gains in Madhes, Nepal’s swing state, a report by Santosh Ghimire…reports Asian Lite News

With November 20 elections for the House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly just three weeks away in Nepal, election fever is slowly gripping Madhes Province.

Rallies and campaigns have intensified across Terai ahead of the crucial elections that are being held for the second time after the country promulgated its first federal republican constitution in 2015. The first such elections took place in 2017.

Madhes Province borders India and shares close socio-cultural affinities with the neighbouring country. There are eight districts in the province, with 32 federal parliamentary seats. There are 107 seats in the provincial assembly headquartered in Janakpur.

As elections are inching closer, there are various projects and calculations over election results of Madhes.

The Madhes-centric parties are allying with traditional political parties in the elections, avoiding an electoral alliance with each other.

The Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) led by Upendra Yadav, a leading political force in Madhes, has allied with former Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s CPN (UML).

But, another Madhes-centric party Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP), led by Mahantha Thakur has partnered with the five-party ruling coalition under the Nepali Congress.

Madhes-centric parties’ electoral alliance with the ruling and opposition parties is not based on ideology, but rather on electoral calculations.

The Madhes-centric parties, who once championed the agenda of federalism and inclusiveness, are struggling to ensure seats in the federal and provincial assemblies. In the upcoming polls they are partnering with the conventional political forces, which are mostly centrist and anti-federalist.

Analysts say that Madhes-centric parties are likely to lose elections this time around for their own past mistakes.

“In the last elections, Madhes-centric parties lured voters claiming they would make ground for amending the constitution to meet their demands. But when they got into power, they failed to live up to their promises — they could not lobby for creating a situation for the constitutional amendment. Rather, they got mired in the quagmire of power politics. Because of their failure to vocally advocate for Madhes’ agendas, the Madhesis are disassociating themselves from the regional parties and are yet to associate with the newer parties,” Tula Narayan Shah, a political analyst who also comes from the Madhes region, told Kathmandu Post newspaper in an interview on Monday.

Shah projected that two key Madhes-centric parties Janata Samajbadi Party and the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party will fare poorly in the polls as they lack public trust.

“They will get fewer seats than in the last elections. Loktantrik Samajbadi Party will witness a poorer performance than the Janata Samajbadi Party because they deviated from their core original agendas,” he observed.

Apart from traditional and Madhes-centric parties, some other fringe parties such as CK Raut-led Janamat Party have made their presence felt on the ground in the upcoming elections.

Analyst Shah says that he does not think Raut’s party will bring impactful results in the upcoming polls. “Major Madhes-based parties will shrink, and emerging parties in Madhesh don’t spark much hope,” he added.

The Nepali Congress has been the most influential political force in the Terai-Madhes region even after the emergence of regional parties on account of a massive Madhes uprising in 2008.

Since then, Madhes-centric parties are dominant political force in Madhes. Over the years, these regional parties played a vital role in the formation and dissolution of successive governments in the Center.

Madhes-centric parties under fire

When Nepal promulgated its first federal republic constitution in 2015, the Madhes-centric parties collectively launched months-long protest in Terai region, seeking amendments to the national charter. The traditional parties including the Nepali Congress, the CPN (UML) and the Maoist enacted the constitution through a two-thirds majority despite the fierce agitation in Madhes region that saw the killings of over 50 people.

The situation of traditional parties Vs Madhes-centric parties did not last long.

Because, the same Madhes-centric parties who protested the newly-promulgated constitution, joined elections along with major parties in the House of Representatives to pick a new prime minister in October 2015, inviting ire from the agitating population from Terai.

Seven years later, the Madhes-centric parties were seen disoriented as they abandoned their constitutional amendment agenda.

However, the present provincial government in Madhes is headed by Lal Babu Raut, a leader of the Janata Samajbadi Party led by Upendra Yadav. The provincial government is backed by the Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist) and the CPN (Unified Socialist). At the federal level, the JSP quit the party after it joined the UMl-led electoral alliance in mid-October.



Congress may also win in Madhes

Analysts say the existing ruling alliance is likely to emerge victorious in the upcoming elections in Madhes and chief ruling party the Nepali Congress will be benefited the most this time around.

“Madhes has traditionally been a bastion of the Nepali Congress (NC). In the impending elections, too, every political force including Madhesis will have a fierce battle primarily with the NC as before. Ultimately, the NC will reap benefits from this alliance-based electoral competition,” Sitaram Baral, a senior journalist, who follows regional politics of Madhes closely, told India Narrative.

In view of the upcoming elections, the ruling alliance over the past few months has given an impression to the Madhesi people that it can be their savior. For example, the ruling alliance endorsed the long-delayed Citizenship bill in August from the federal parliament as a matter of urgency. It was widely believed that the prime political motto of the ruling alliance was to secure electoral gains mainly in Madhes region.

UML may also gain more seats

Similarly, the main opposition, CPN (UML) which has been described as anti-Madhesi might also secure more seats in parliament from this region, according to analyst Shah.

“The UML is not going to emerge victorious in Madhes. But, it will secure a better position than the past because there is a lack of public trust in Madhes-centric parties,” Shah noted.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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