Federal & Provincial Elections 2017

Mechi Pari locals feel snubbed by leaders

  • Say elections hardly matter to them; all they want is basic facilities
- SANJEEV GIRI, PARBAT PORTEL, BHADRAPUR
It hardly matters to us who wins the elections. Elections only mean we get to see leaders one more time. That’s it. - Jusu Rajbanshi, a local of Mechi Pari

Nov 10, 2017-In Bhadrapur Municipality of Jhapa lies a small village known as Mechi Pari, which means “across the Mechi river”. 

For people in this tiny village, which is in the middle of the Mechi river in Jhapa district of Province 1, elections hardly mean anything, “except we get to see some leaders of political parties for one more time,” they say.

“It hardly matters to us who wins the elections,” says Jusu Rajbanshi of Mechi Pari, which turns into an island for about five months every year and is cut off from the rest of the district. 

While political parties’ manifestos pledge railways, rapid development and huge foreign investment in the country, all Mechi Pari locals want is a bridge that can keep them “connected to the state and the rest of the country”. 

There are no schools for children’s education. People have to walk for hours to reach the nearest hospital when they fall sick. 

A bridge is under construction, but people here say going by the pace it is being built, “we are not going to get to use it anytime soon.”

From mid-May to mid-September, when Mechi Pari turns into an island, villagers are left with no option than to make a risky crossing of the river using boats.

Two villages—Dolo Basti and Jyamir Gadhi—in Mechi Pari have a total of 142 households and they get inundated every year during the rainy season. 

In the past elections, including the recently held local level polls, leaders had pledged to construct toilets, locals say, adding that nothing has happened so far. 

“The only bright side is that we have electricity,” Man Kumari Rajbanshi, 32, says, adding that electricity came to their villages only about two months ago. 

Likewise, a police station in the village and presence of Seema Surakshya Bal (SSB) on the Indian side have given some sort of respite to us, say the villagers who were earlier often terrorised by dacoits from India as well as Nepal.

Like in other parts of the country where leaders hardly visit, Mechi Pari locals also vote diligently in every election.  They, however, complain that no one comes to visit them, not even for voter education. “No one has come to tell us how to vote,” Khadga Singh, 84, says. 

The villages in Mechi Pari fall under Nepali Congress leader and former home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula’s constituency. In the first Constituent Assembly elections, the entire Mechi Pari had voted for Purna Singh Rajbanshi of the CPN (Maoist Centre). Choosing a leader from own community also didn’t help. He never showed up after the elections, they say. Bordering with India, Jhapa is also the hometown of CPN-UML Chairman and former prime minister KP Oli. 

Political parties—big or small-have done nothing for us and for the development of the region, villagers complain. Leaders, however, refused to accept that they have remained apathetic to concerns of the people of Mechi Pari. 

“We understand the problem of people in Mechi Pari and projects have been expedited to ensure basic facilities for them,” Sitaula told the Post at his residence, which is around only a 25-30-minutes ride from Mechi Pari. 

“A leader cannot do everything alone,” Sitaula said, getting into the procedural stuff and red tape like approval from the National Planning Commission and Finance Ministry among others. Sitaula, has contested five elections since 1991 from the same constituency, has won three. 

Published: 10-11-2017 08:13

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