TOPICS : Motives behind the local elections

Yadav Khanal

The government wants to have its own sure run for an indefinite period on the strength of a number of claques of supporters in the forms of various local bodies such as municipalities and district and village development committees. It has already announced that it will hold the polls to such bodies with the clear intention of giving them a semblance of democracy.

However, no supporters of demo-cracy, least the seven parties agitating for the restoration of the democratic order in all its fullness, are going to participate in the electioneering process. The democratic forces want nothing less than the restitution of a truly democratic system for which they have been demanding the revival of the dissolved House of Representatives. Rather, they are prepared to go on agitating against the February 1 takeover that has clearly done away with the last vestiges of the democratic system.

Now the parties have received full moral backing from the Maoists, following their fervent appeal to the insurgents to quit their violent methods. This development seems to have unnerved the present government, and its Information and Communications Minister, Tanka Dhakal, has reacted to it by warning the parties against aligning themselves with the Maoists. He even hurled a serious threat that if they did not listen, his government would treat them as “terrorists” in turn. In other words, Dhakal’s warning seeks to convey the message that the parties may even face a situation of being outlawed, if they disobeyed. However, the question is: Will the minister’s warning cow down the anti-regression forces?

The government is acting on the flimsy and specious plea that it is set to work for safeguarding democracy, and that its proposed elections to local bodies are designed to achieve the same end. However, the parties have denounced the unconstitutionally appointed local bodies, and they have demanded their immediate dissolution as one of the pre-requisites to polls. The parties know that such polls would be no different from the 1972 so-called “national referendum.”

Having said this, there is no need to elaborate on what the present regime wants its much-hyped-up local bodies for. These elections will not return any genuine democratic institutions. The agitating parties and most analysts have denounced the government’s proposal to hold local polls by keeping this very truth in mind. For these fake local bodies, even like the “parliaments” elected by official manipulations, will be as different in their character from that of the representative legislatures, returned through the exercise of genuine franchise. And we had had enough of such spurious elected parliaments in the form of Rashtriya Panchayats.

As of today, the seven parties, far from responding positively to the government’s call to take part in the local elections, have gone to the extent of addressing the Maoists to work together on a common agenda that includes electing a Constituent Assembly to bring about far-reaching radical changes in the country’s political structure.