TOPICS: An exercise in futility

Despite growing internal and external pressures, the government went ahead with the municipal polls, determined to make it a success. The government with its few fanatical supporters drew

considerable flak from various quarters for its determination to hold the polls at any cost. However, refusing to listen to the wise counsel pouring in from all around, the State authorities took a big risk by carrying out its plan while the citizens did not have a sense of security in order to vote.

The polls, to say the least, are sure to become unsuccessful much to the dismay of the incumbent ill-cobbled government. It was difficult for the authorities to find suitable candidates for the elections. Even the royalist Pashupati Shumsher Rana’s Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Rastriya Jana Shakti Party of Surya Bahadur Thapa boycotted

the polls. To cap it all, at the eleventh hour former mayor Keshav Sthapit’s Nepal Praja Parishad stepped back from its earlier decision to fight the polls, citing Maoist pressures for doing so.

Similarly, at the behest of Malla K Sunder, a human rights activist, the Newar community of Kathmandu is reported to have abstained from voting. Only the lot of the naiveté filed nomination for various posts. Their number, more than 3,000, appeared to be less impressive.

Meanwhile, Minister Thapa is reported to have narrowly escaped from an assassin’s bullet on January 26 when he was participating in a poll-related programme at Baitadi. Although nothing definite is known about the real identity of the group of the four persons involved in the reported assassination attempt, the event didn’t augur well at all for the polls.

No wonder even those candidates, in spite of their being covered under hefty insurance, including those from 44 fringe parties, reversed their decision to take part in the elections. The elections are sure to escalate the internal conflict.

The government doesn’t seem to care about any potential dangers arising from its self-declared “democratic exercise”. This is a highly regrettable move. The US, the UK and India have expressed displeasure at the government’s plan to hold the polls. The EU

has debunked the polls as one more step towards derailing the democratic system. The polls, without the participation of the parties, will further polarise the political forces of the country.

Over 500 potential candidates approached the Election Commission to cancel their nominations as their family members put heavy pressure on them to do so fearing threats from the Maoists. Worse yet for the government. Some persons like Biraj Man Shrestha of Bhimeswar municipality of Dolakha district, Gyan Bahadur Shrestha, Ashakazi Hazaam and Dinanath Chaulagain of Ward No. 2 of the same area even claimed that their nominations were filed on their behalf without their knowledge. All this only goes to prove that the over-hyped municipal polls are a phoney affair, nothing more, and nothing less.