JHAPA, Sept 1: Nepal held its last local elections in 1997. It is almost two decades that the politicians at the local level have been deprived of contesting in elections.
As a result, many malpractices have surfaced at the local level. One visible malpractice is the politicization of social organizations.
Jhapa is of no exception. Political parties in the district these days openly engage in elections of local social organizations. The politicization does not end there. If the candidate they favor wins the elections of such organizations, they portray the winner as their ally.
Ironically, most of those social organizations are registered as non-political organization.
“Political parties create their own panel to run elections in organizations like community forestry users groups, drinking water users groups, chamber of commerce and industry and school management committee,” Aakash Chudal, a student of political science said.
Political parties are still of the mindset of showing off their power. Another reason is to manage their cadres, he added.
There is not a single organization at local level which is beyond the influence of partisan politics. Political leaders, however, dub this move as a 'democratic exercise'.
The practice should be taken in a positive light as political competition is inevitable in democratic system, Nepali Congress President of Mechinagar Indra Bahadur Budhathoki and chairperson of CPN-UML municipal committee Khem Raj Pokharel expressed similar views.
They further added that the persons elected in social organization should serve the society without any political bias and prejudice.
The upcoming election of Damak Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Jhapa is also not free from politicization. The election is scheduled for September 9.
Though this organization is considered to be an umbrella organization of private sector (business entrepreneurs), the role of political parties dominates the entire elections process right from the selection of candidates.
Election campaigns are also similar to the election of political parties. And local leaders of political parties are openly supporting either one or another candidate.
It is interesting that the elections of social organizations affect the political parties to the extent that tensions run high in some political parties due to dispute over whom to support in such elections.
For example, one faction of Nepali Congress decided to support one candidate while another faction backed another individual for the election of Kankai Nagar Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The party was deeply divided over the issue. The elections of an organization of business entrepreneurs sparked dispute within political parties. The election is already over but the conflict in Nepali Congress still continues.
Political parties come to intervene in all elections, local entrepreneur Kamal Ghimire said. “Political parties want to hijack every organization.”