More than 35 big contractors have secured tickets for the upcoming federal and provincial elections from our major political parties. This trend is deeply disturbing at multiple levels. First, the cadres who have worked for the party for decades have been pushed aside for those who can pay to run for office. Second, proportional representation (PR) system, which is ideally meant for ensuring that all sections of society are represented in the parliament, has been auctioned off to the highest bidders. We have repeatedly raised the issue of the need to change the way we conduct elections in this space before. But this has gone on deaf ears of political leadership.
Republica has discovered that these 35 big contractors have more than 100 projects with them that are worth billions. Some of these projects have not been completed for over a decade. It is rather ironic that the political parties chose to reward the contractors for their unfinished job this time around with election ticket to run for upcoming elections. The economic loss and the potential benefit those projects would have had on our people and economy is multifold. Some of the brave government secretaries and project directors who dared question the contractors and cancel their award have been mercilessly transferred to offices which are deemed ‘unimportant’. This is one example of how political leadership flagrantly undermines public welfare to serve the interests of anybody who provides them donations. Ironically, these contractor-turned-politicians are now busy in door-to-door campaigns, promising development and other lofty goals across the country, while they themselves have held back the projects they are entrusted to complete on time. If elected, we can only imagine how these contractors will perform their duty as lawmakers. Will they keep people’s interest at the heart of their work?
The influence of ungodly amount of money in our politics is deeply worrying. Our politicians have become prisoners of deep pockets, and do not hesitate to pass bills even if the people oppose them. The ongoing debate around the health care bill is a case in point. When the whole country rallied behind Dr Govinda KC to pass the health care bill that favored the people, some of the leaders affiliated with CPN-UML and other parties stood against the bill just because some of their party financers were behind the Manmohan Medical College. Most of the people who run big schools were in the education committee of the house and they have passed a provision that makes it practically impossible to open up new private schools. Political leadership should have learned from this experience while awarding election tickets this time around. But this was not meant to be. We must strive to keep our electoral system sane so that people with good intention will be encouraged to jump into the political fray. Political leaders should stop taking people for granted. Abraham Lincoln has rightly said, “you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”