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Published On: June 21, 2022 02:59 PM NPT By: Republica

Representation of Dalit community declines in 2022 local election

Representation of Dalit community declines in 2022 local election


Nepal recently concluded its second local election on May 13, 2022, following the adoption of the federal system of governance by the country. The results of polls have also been published. But, the number of Dalit community representatives in the local election has decreased than in the past. Since Dalits are considered as the lowest social strata in the traditional Hindu caste system, also characterized as 'Untouchable', while comparing the number of Dalit representatives elected through the elections of 2017 with this year’s,  the number of Dalit people elected as the chiefs and mayors is only one percent of the total number of such positions.

Meanwhile, looking at the 2022 local election, no political party fielded candidates from the Dalit community in 124 local bodies. It is observed that only three members of the Dalit community have been represented from 293 metropolitan and sub-metropolitan cities and municipalities. The reason for the decline in the number of Dalit representatives is because the caste system is still prevalent in Nepali society.

Issuing a letter, Pradip Pariyar, executive chairperson of Samata Foundation, has raised concern over the issue. The letter states that in 2017, Dalit participation for the position of Deputy Mayor was low. In 2017, from the Dalit community, 11 members were elected to the post of Deputy Mayor while this year only eight members have been elected which is said to be 2.73 percent of the total number of deputy mayor positions.

In contrast, Pariyar has also mentioned that compared to the previous election, Dalit representatives for the position of the rural municipality chairperson has increased. The number of the rural municipality chairpersons from the Dalit community in the year 2017 was only one and in this year’s election, seven rural municipality chairpersons have been elected from the Dalit community. This is just 1.52 percent of the total 460 rural municipalities.

Similarly, the number of representatives for vice chairperson is also low this year, compared to the number in 2017. There were 16 Dalit people elected in 2017 to the post of vice- chairpersons. Besides, this year, there are only seven members who have been elected to the post of vice-chairpersons of rural municipalities which is just 1.52 percent of the total number. Along with that, out of the total number of 6,743 wards, only 148 wards have Dalit chairs. This is only 2.19 percent of the total number.

However, the number of Dalit ward members has reached 98.01 percent. As the Local Level Election Act, 2017 has made a Dalit woman ward member mandatory for every ward, it is estimated that the number of Dalit women representatives has been growing. In addition, among the 13,486 ward members, 878 Dalit members have been elected which is 6.51 percent of the total number.

It has been mentioned in the preamble and various articles and sub-articles of Nepal’s Constitution 2015 that Nepal will be governed by an inclusive and proportional system. In republic Nepal, the political representation of the Dalit community has been ensured constitutionally and legally based on the principle of proportional representation. But it doesn’t seem that the Dalit community has got their rights based on their population. Pariyar has mentioned that ignoring the politically meaningful participation of Dalit community raises question over the democratic process and practice and marks the constitutional provision instable. So, he has urged the government that in the upcoming federal and provincial elections, a meaningful participation and inclusion of the Dalit community should be ensured.

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