Provincial assembly candidates overshadowed in campaigns

Lamjung, November 21

After completing more than 50 percent of door-to door campaign, candidates of provincial election concluded that the importance of the provincial assembly has been totally overshadowed by parliamentary elections.

CPN-UML Secretary Prithibi Shubba Gurung, who is a chief ministerial candidate of Province 4, told The Himalayan Times that voters generally assumed that central party leaders like him were contesting for parliamentary seat. ‘’When I told about my candidacy for the province, they asked me why I limited my political career within the province’’ he said. After facing such questions in two or three villages, Gurung started to convince people about the importance of provincial government, its assembly members and his potential contribution to the province if he was elected chief minister.

Gurung has contested Rastriya Panchayet, House of Representatives and Constituent Assembly elections. ‘’Contesting the provincial election is new for me and for the voters as well,’ he said.

Nepali Congress provincial candidate Krishna Koirala said whether it was door-to-door campaign or a mass meeting, it is the candidacy for Parliament that is being highlighted. ‘’As a result, we are taking extra effort to make voters aware about candidacy for provincial election. ‘’Some voters think that we are akin to proportional representation candidates, so casting vote in the PR ballot box will be enough. ‘’People have not understood the concept of provincial level of the federalism yet,’’ Koirala added. He also said election for two layers of governance on the same day was the root cause behind this problem. Koirala said people are still unaware that a provincial government will be closer to them than the federal government. ‘’The people even don’t know that a chief minister of the province has more role to plat in their development than a federal minister,’ Gurung added.

To reduce this confusion, top party candidates are presenting provincial agendas in the poll campaign. They are presenting provincial projects for tourism development, road construction and exploration of hydropower.

Volunteers who are educating people on how to vote in the right way also observed that senior citizens, villagers, and uneducated women were unaware of the importance of provincial assembly.

Shanta Shrestha, a local, said, “we don’t care who is contesting for which post; we will support that candidate who can assure us that Basishahar-Gaunshahar road will be black-topped.”