With the by-elections over, the government must now concentrate its efforts on goods and service delivery to the people
The results of the by-elections held on November 30 send a clear message that the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the Nepali Congress are the predominant forces at all levels in Nepal, and the smaller parties or independents have little chance of shaking them. Kaski Constituency 2 was the focus of the by-elections, where Bidhya Bhattarai of the NCP, the wife of late Rabindra Adhikari, won the polls with a huge margin of votes against her rival from the Nepali Congress. The seat had fallen vacant after Adhikari, who was the tourism minister, was killed in a chopper crash in Taplejung in east Nepal in February this year. Although some smaller parties, such as the Samajbadi Party Nepal and Sajha Party, managed to win some votes in the election held on Saturday, they were few and trailing far behind the big parties. What is particularly embarrassing is that 19 candidates failed to garner even a single vote, most of whom were contesting the polls as independents. A candidate from the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (United) also failed to win a single vote for the chair of ward No. 10 of Kapilvastu. What this points to is that the principles and programmes of these smaller parties do not resonate well with the voters, requiring a total change of tactics in future elections.
The by-elections on Saturday were held in 37 districts for 52 vacant posts. They were held to elect one member of the House of Representatives, three provincial assembly members from Bhaktapur, Baglung and Dang, one mayor in Dharan, three chairpersons, one vice-chair and 43 ward chairs. Altogether 11 parties had fielded candidates for the lone parliamentary seat, 15 parties for the provincial assembly seats and 20 parties for the local levels. Of the 337 candidates contesting the by-elections, 253 represented various political parties while 84 were independents. The polls, despite some sporadic incidents of bomb blasts, were largely peaceful, with 65.43 per cent voter turnout, although the Election Commission was expecting about 70 per cent.
With the victory of Bidhya Bhattarai in the by-election, the NCP retains the same number of seats in the parliament as before. The Nepali Congress, however, managed to wrest the Bhaktapur seat in the provincial assembly from the NCP and won the mayoral seat in Dharan, considered a NCP stronghold. But elections are unpredictable, and they throw up surprises even with the best of predictions. With the elections over, the government is relieved of a major task, especially when there are inimical forces trying to sabotage any democratic exercise in the country. The government must now concentrate its efforts on goods and service delivery to the people. Regardless of any election, the reason why people vote is that they want the government to deliver the goods. And it can only do this when it can spend its capital expenditure in time. Unfortunately, the central government’s capital expenditure in the first quarter of the current fiscal year hovers at around just 6 per cent. The government has the onus to build the infrastructure for creating millions of jobs for our youths, who leave the country by the horde every day to do menial jobs in some foreign land. Let those who were elected in the past or in the by-elections on Saturday not disappoint their voters.
It’s already unfortunate to be infected with HIV. Now there is more bad news for people living with HIV – they are at risk of cancers such as Kaposi sarcoma, which sees the growth of abnormal tissue in the skin, mouth, nose and throat. People with HIV are also susceptible to lung cancer, cervical cancer and lymphoma, a cancer that starts in the cells of the body’s immune system. According to doctors, HIV weakens the immune system, reducing the body’s ability to fight viral infections, which could lead to cancer.
There is a need to create awareness about HIV/AIDS among the people, especially in the rural areas, to prevent infection as well as diseases as a result of it. Nepal is said to have about 31,000 persons living with HIV, and this gives room for worry as HIV infection could spread fast through multiple means. Most of those suffering from HIV/AIDS are injecting drug users, commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender people. Also a lot of migrant male workers are known to buy sex when outside, which raises the possibility of infecting their wives upon their return. Working with these groups of people should help contain HIV to some degree.