Thursday, November 21, 2013

Decoding the Vote

Yet again, Nepali people witnessed the Constitution Assembly (CA) election. CA, still a new word during the turn of millennium, has now been a regular topic in households and it can well be the most used ‘term’ in the media and public discourse in the recent times. I am amazed when I try to look back to analyze the pace with which it was incorporated in our daily life. There could be many reasons, both – positive and negative, but we still have to wait for few more years to be clear about the ‘pace’ that I have discussed above. For now, the idea of the article is to discuss the recently concluded election and some of the news that surrounded it. 

Unprecedented proportion – more than 70%, says the Election Commission (EC) – of the total voters turning-up for the election, amid the fear factor spurred by CPN (Maoist) led by Mohan Baidhya and most importantly, in between the hopeless scenario and the foul-play of power seen during the tenure of first Constitutional Assembly (CA), shows the hope, enthusiasm and positivity of Nepali people in democracy and most importantly in their voting rights.

The record number of people turning out for vote, amid dangers to even their life, is a sign of responsible citizenship at crucial time of history, but it also is a demand from the Nepali people to their leaders to finalize a new constitution that the country have waited for so long. This indeed is a positive sign for the country which believes in democratic process. Now, it the turn of the political parties to payback the people for the faith they have shown in them. Hopefully, this time around, the political parties will not take ‘the faith’ for granted and will work towards the aspirations of people.

The increased percentage of the voters in this CA election compared to the previous one (60%) is also a hint that people have realized the importance of CA even more and thus want their voice heard through the use of ballot. Dolpa being the district with the highest (83%) proportion of vote casted followed by Dolakha and Rautahat which saw the 80% of votes cast shows how dearly people faraway from the capital await a new constitution. In this sense, the election results would really be an important milestone to interpret the mindset and realization of the Nepali people. And, it can be expected of the ‘peoples’ parties’, to respect the mandate.

There is a clear message to the 33 parties’ alliance which boycotted the election and used terror tactics at the public level to foil the election. But, people no longer seem to be intimidated by the threat to their life. So, it time for the alliance to rethink on their strategies and reach people with their ideas in a creative way and prepare for next election to come.

For the Election Commission, the election is not over yet. Yes it is true that ‘peaceful’ casting of vote is an important aspect of election, but it’s just half of the work done. Thus, it should be vigilant in ensuring rest of the procedure, till the announcement of the results, is done in a fair way. But, we should not have to delay any further to thank the present government for being successful in holding election – doubted even until the last week – by jellying together the parties, security forces, government officials, international organization and their representatives, etc.

Finally, even on the part of people, it not job-done either. Voting is just a start where they select the person, they think, are capable enough to represent them in the process of constitution making. But, the post-election period, all the way for 5-years, they should continuously evaluate the performance of their representative and pressurize them to work in line to their mandate. And, since we are expecting a new constitution in a one year time, we should be extra cautious and should not entertain any reasons, from the political parties, to delay the constitution. The constitution is the need of the time and must be delivered in time amid any situation; the political parties to be elected for CA had and also will have enough time to think ‘how?’

Acharya is a last semester student of Masters in Development at Kathmandu University, and is currently in Uppsala University, Sweden, as an Erasmus Mundus fellow specializing in Sustainable Development.

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