KATHMANDU: Only 12 days are left to go for the election to the House of Representatives and Province Assembly member.
As the voting day draws closer, candidates are busy in reaching the doorstep of voters with their election agendas.
The main competition in the election is usually between the candidates of political parties.
But there is a craze of independent candidates in this election as no one was prohibited to file independent candidacy in a democratic system.
The victory of independent candidates, including Harka Sampang from Dharan, Balen Shah from Kathmandu and Gopal Hamal from Dhangadhi in local-level election held in May, might be the reason behind the increasing number of independent candidates in this HoR and Province Assembly election.
Analysts say that the number of independent candidates has increased in upcoming election due to distrust towards political parties, the dissatisfied electorates and cadres due to alliance and attachment of voters shown to independent candidates during local-level election.
A total of 360 candidates have filed their candidacies for 15 seats of House of Representatives member in three districts in Kathmandu Valley, and of them 128 are independent candidates, which is 35.55 percent of the total candidacy.
Similarly, 340 candidates have filed their candidacies for 30 seats for Province Assembly in these three districts. Of them, 119 are independent candidates, which is 35 percent.
Likewise, number of independent candidates is high rather than candidates of political parties for HoR members in Kathmandu Constituency-7. There are 16 independent candidates while the number of candidates of political parties is 13.
Fifteen independent candidates have filed their candidacies for Province Assembly election in Lalitpur Constituency 1 (A) and (B).
Out of 255 candidates for HoR members in Kathmandu-10, 97 are independent candidates.
Similarly, 40 candidates are in election race in Bhaktapur Constituency-2. Of them, 15 are independent candidates while 16, out of 63 candidates in Lalitpur Constituency-3, are independent candidates.
Increasing wave of independent candidacy
Independent HoR election candidate from the Lalitpur constituency-2, Deepesh Kumar KC, said that he believed the number of independent candidates was rising as a protest against the ‘syndicate’ system of political parties.
“People with open minds within the party usually get discouraged by the leadership as they are barred from testing their time through ballots, that’s why the trend of independent candidacy is increasing.”
“I am in the politics with a clear mission and vision. To a larger extent, the candidacy of mine is also for the fight for ideological independence. The increasing wave of independent candidacy suggests a larger public realization for a change in the nation,” he said.
KC will be facing Krishna Lal Maharjan of CPN (Unified Socialist), Prem Bahadur Maharjan of CPN (UML) and other seven candidates like him as his rivals in the elections.
Krishna Lal who represents the ruling parties’ alliance candidate had won the previous elections as the then CPN (UML) candidate with 27,713 votes.
Similarly, Rajendra Pathak, who filed his independent nomination from the Kathmandu-1, said free education and free health care services guaranteed by the Constitution are his prime election agenda.
Pathak who was long associated in the practice of law and journalism insisted on the full implementation of the people’s fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution to see an improvement in people’s living standard.
“People’s unhindered access to electricity and drinking water is also in the election agenda of mine and I will dedicate enough time to hear the public issues regularly and do my best to get them addressed.” He said he is in favor of revoking federalism and secularism.
He was long associated with the Nepal Congress student wing Nepal Students’ Union and youth wing Nepal Tarun Dal and identified himself as independent for a year.
Ranju Neupane aka Ranju Darshana, who contested in the local level election to the post of mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City in 2017, is in the election fray this time as well. She has fielded her candidacy from Kathmandu constituency number 5 as an independent.
She is contesting the election to the member of House of Representatives, the lower house of the federal parliament in this election and is taking on CPN (UML)’s senior vice-president Ishwor Pokhrel and Nepali Congress youth leader Pradip Poudel as her election contenders. Similarly, social campaigner Hemraj Thapa is also in the fray in this constituency.
Neupane said that she would work to promote the mental health sector. “At present every household has one or two persons who are suffering from mental health issues. The policy on mental health is also not timely. My first priority would be to address this problem,” she added.
Some youths, enthused after Balen Shah’s and Harka Sampang’s victory in the local election as independent candidates, have promoted the ‘stick’ election symbol as a campaign in this election. Shah and Sampang had contested the election with ‘stick’ as their election symbol.
They have given the ‘stick campaign’ an organizational shape and have been campaigning for the independent candidates in this election through the ‘Hamro Nepali Party’ (Our Nepali Party).
Engineer Aakarshan Pokhrel (Prabendra Pokhrel) who is a candidate from the Hamro Nepali Party in Kathmandu constituency number 7 says he will focus on policy-level works if elected. Pokhrel is competing with 13 candidates from political parties and an additional 16 independent candidates.
Pokhrel will have to compete with CPN (Maoist Centre)’s Asmita Singh (Manushi) Yami Bhattarai, CPN (UML)’s Shyam Kumar Ghimire and UML’s rebel candidate Ramveer Manandhar. Bhattarai is the common candidate of the present ruling alliance.
Pokhrel who returned back to Nepal after staying in America for a long time has a reading that the people in his constituency do not have big untenable demands. He claims that these demands can be easily fulfilled. He has also made public his 10 commitments for the election.
“There are several problems related to drinking water, road, poor road quality, traffic congestion, drainage, solid waste management, health and rising inflation dogging the people in this constituency. These are problems which can be easily addressed. My main focus would be on this,” he said.
According to him, promoting good governance, provision of free health services from the government hospitals, quality free education, clean water and development of modern agriculture system are the present needs. Preservation and promotion of art and culture as well as the cultural heritages, increasing greenery, construction of north-south ‘tourism highway’ and drafting a national tourism policy and implementing it are also Pokhrel’s priorities.
Suman Sayami is another candidate from Kathmandu constituency number 8 on behalf the Hamro Nepali Party. He said his main election plank is addressing the problems of the locals including those related to local roads and services.
He was also the candidate for the post of mayor of Kathmandu in the last local election. He bagged 13,770 votes in the municipal election. Encouraged by this, he is now contesting the election to the member of the federal parliament. Sayami has been raising the issue of rehabilitation along with employment for the people displaced due to the road expansion works in his constituency. (RSS)