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Local Polls 2017: Preliminary results indicate new trend in urban politics

  • People want alternative political force but they are not convinced that newly emerged parties could win the polls.
- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu

May 18, 2017-

Now it is almost sure that there will be a tough competition between Nepali Congress and CPN-UML for the first and second position, and CPN (Maoist Centre) will emerge as a third force in the first phase of local level elections. It wouldn’t be surprising as the outcome was expected. 

But the preliminary vote counting results of Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Lalitpur Metropolitan city indicate new trend in urban politics which is quite different from the past election results.

The votes garnered so far by Bibeksheel and Sajha Party in Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Lalitpur Metropolitan City demonstrate the people's hunger for change—perhaps due to the growing disillusionment with the traditional big political parties. At the same time, it appears that the newly formed political parties need to work hard to win the hearts and minds of the people. They basically need a clear ideology, strong leadership and vision for change.

 It is a clear indication that time is ripe for alternative political forces to emerge. The votes received by 21-year-old Ranju Darshana reflect that the youths of Kathmandu don’t give a damn about rhetorical political ideology, and want to see a tangible change. They no longer believe that the traditional parties can bring a change. Similarly, the votes received by Kishore Thapa, a former government secretary, indicate that people’s agenda at this time is development and economic progress.

Preliminary counting is showing that two new political forces are receiving more votes than other old parties in Kathmandu Metropolitan City such as Naya Shakti-led by Baburam Bhattarai, CPN (Maoist Centre) led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Rastriya Prajatantra Party-led by Kamal Thapa and other traditional fringe parties.  This means people want alternative political force but they are not convinced that newly emerged parties could become viable and win the elections. On the other hand, the parties which are being projected as alternative forces are very new and they are confined to Kathmandu valley.

"We are aware that interference by alternative political forces in the Kathmandu and Lalitpur Metropolitan city should be expanded to all 75 districts in the coming parliamentary elections," Muma Ram Khanal, a political analyst and leader of Sajha Party, wrote in his tweet.  Obviously, the two political forces will expand their networks to other parts of the country as well which will pose challenge to old parties.

Now they are concentrating their activities in the Kathmandu valley, and mulling expanding their networks to other parts of the country. Had alternatives parties got sufficient time to expand the energy, they could have secured more votes in other municipalities as well. 

People, particularly youths, are frustrated with old political parties such as Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, Maoist and other parties.  This happened due to their bad governance, mismanagement, failure to create jobs and kick start the journey of economic development in the country. They want change but they do not believe that old parties can take the leadership.

 Not just the counting results, there is a strong support to alternative forces. Apart from the neutral mass, people who were hardcore supporters of Nepali Congress and CPN-UML are supporting the new political force. Though they are not going to win the elections, the votes received by new political forces could become a lesson for the leaders who are going to become mayor soon.

 There are two lessons. First the youths are gradually becoming frustrated with old parties. So the new mayor should address the concerns and issues raised by youths.

Second lesson is that Metropolitan leadership should focus on economic development, governance and several issues faced by people in Kathmandu valley.  In 2013, Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, a royalist party, emerged surprisingly. But the early indication shows that then RPP-N now renamed as RPP is losing its ground.

Published: 18-05-2017 19:59

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