Federal & Provincial Elections 2017

Candidates fund themselves for campaigns, mostly

- Binod Ghimire, SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu

Nov 19, 2017-With the first phase of elections a week away, candidates have expedited their campaigns. Pamphlets, motor rallies, mass meetings and even feasts are common sights in the constituencies though their intensity varies from party to party and candidate to candidate.

A total of 5,284 candidates are in the race under the first-past-the-post category for 165 and 330 seats of the federal parliament and provincial assemblies while 6,094 have been listed for the proportional representation election. Candidates are spending lavishly.

Party leaders say a major bulk of the campaign costs must be borne by the candidates though the parties have supported the publishing of election manifestos and some other publicity materials. Two major parties Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have lent some help to their candidates. However, the CPN (Maoist Centre), the Madhes-based parties and fringe parties like the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) have not given any money to their candidates.

Immediately after the election date was announced, the ruling NC formed a committee to collect funds for the vote. Led by Finance Minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, the team included Umesh Shrestha and Khuma Aryal as members. The party urged its cadres, sympathisers and the business houses to chip in. The party has collected Rs20 million from the drive. Using also its savings, the party handed over Rs200,000 to each of its candidates for the federal parliament and Rs100,000 for the provincial assemblies. “Collection of funds, however, has not been institutional. Supporters are funding the candidates, not the party and that’s not a good practice,” Shrestha told the Post, explaining the reason behind the “poor” collection.

According to the CPN-UML, the task of managing funds for the election campaign has been given to the party’s district committees. The party has urged cadres to contribute at least Rs1,000 per person. “We have assigned the district level committees to collect funds. The expenditure, however, will be audited at the central level after the polls,” UML leader Bishnu Rimal told the Post. The UML has also sought help from supporters living abroad. Cadres staying in developed countries such as the United States, Canada, Japan and those in Europe have been requested to contribute $1000 each. Those having good earnings in the Gulf countries have been requested to donate $500 each while ordinary workers have been asked to contribute $100 each. “The donation, however, is voluntary,” said Rimal, adding that the party has opened an account at the Global IME Bank to receive the contributions.

The money collected would be provided to candidates in need. The UML has asked its candidates to ensure that their spending is in within the limits set by the Election Commission--Rs2.5 million for federal election contenders and Rs1.5 million for provincial seat hopefuls.

The CPN (Maoist Centre) has no policy of providing financial support to its candidates this time around. Though party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had promised to provide certain “seed money” to its first-past-the-post candidates, most of those in the race have not received any so far. Former treasurer of the party Haribol Gajurel said the candidates have been managing their expenses on their own. “We haven’t received any poll materials from the party, let alone election expenses,” said Maoist Centre leader Urmila Aryal, adding that she has borrowed some money from a bank for her campaign.

The ruling RPP has formed a fundraising committee led by its Treasurer Uddab Poudel. The committee wrote to 167 persons, mainly from the business community, to support the party. However, not more than five have responded so far. “We had expected to collect a decent amount, to no avail. This means the candidates will have to rely on themselves for the expenses,” Poudel said. However, the RPP has sent between Rs25,000 and Rs50,000 to each district committee of the party for publicity. The RPP has fielded only five candidates under the first-past-the-post vote, mostly in alliance with the NC.

The story is no different for the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal and the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal. RJP-N General Secretary Manish Suman said the party has not provided a single penny to its candidates but has promised to make publicity materials available. “Since we have forged a coalition, we don’t need much [money].

Friends and well-wishers are supporting us on individual basis,” he said, adding that the total costs would not exceed the EC’s ceiling.

SSF-N Treasurer Bijaya Kumar Yadav said his party was unable to provide its candidates with even publicity materials. “We have informed the candidates about the financial condition of the party while distributing tickets to them,” he said, adding that they are managing the funds on their own.

Published: 19-11-2017 08:47

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