BIRATNAGAR, Dec 10: Proving wrong the notion that elections cannot be won without money, Lal Babu Pandit of CPN-UML emerged victorious from Morang-6 in the recently concluded parliamentary elections. He defeated Nepali Congress (NC) heavyweight Shekhar Koirla in the polls, and that too, without spending anything.
Pandit's secret weapon: honesty. The CPN-UML politburo member has earned himself the identity of being an honest leader. His humble personality, selflessness and genuine nature have inspired many people who know him. This very attribute made it possible for him to contest the elections representing the left alliance of UML and CPN (Maoist Center), and eventually win it without spending anything.
“During the election campaign, he told party cadres that he doesn't have money to spend on promotion campaigns. We all know he is genuine, and so we managed the expenses for him,” said Mohammad Alauddin, a UML cadre of Budi Ganga Rural Municipality-4. “He did not spend money in the elections. He won nonetheless because he is a person who the people trust.”
Alauddin shared that he once spent Rs 2,000 to provide tea and snacks for cadres during a door-to-door campaign of Pandit. “Although I do not have strong finance, Lal Babu's personality makes us want to cover expenses for him. We didn't really mind because we really believe in him.”
Many cadres like Alauddin are the ones who covered the expenses for Pandit. However, it is not the cadres' expenses but his honesty that won him the elections.
Pandit visited poor communities to ask for votes. His soft spoken words and genuine concern for them really made him a good leader. While other candidates only waved hands at voters from far, Pandit established close relationship with voters and won them over.
“He always spoke politely and it was very apparent to voters that his concern for them was genuine. Even while giving speeches, he never criticized anyone or bragged about himself. Pandit was genuine to his cadres and sent the same message to the voters,” said another CPN-UML cadre.
According to Pita Kumar Shrestha, another UML cadre, Pandit always kept his expenses low. “While sometimes it angered some cadres, he would let them know about his financial status and simple living, which is why cadres always calmed down,” he said.
“Many groups approached him, showed him the number of voters in the group and asked for money. Pandit would reply that he does not have money and does not need their votes. He told them to vote whoever gives them money,” added Shrestha.
Eventually, Pandit overcame the tough challenge from NC candidate Koirala with a difference of 675 votes. While NC's General Secretary Koirala received 33,266 votes, Pandit garnered 33,941 votes.