Political observers say political parties are promoting outright lies to win the elections. Such unhealthy competition among parties may create a problem in the long run, they say.
DANG, June 26: The three main parties are selling a self-contradicting promise to voters in Butwal, Ghorahi-Tulsipur and Nepalgunj: to make the respective cities the administrative capital of Province 5.
The provincial capital is an election agenda that resonates well with voters across the region and is expected to affect the outcomes of the local polls slated for June 28.
Three districts -- Dang, Rupendehi and Banke -- are in a race to bring the provincial capital to their territory as the country enters the new federal setup.
Though only one of the three districts could be the administration hub of Province 5, the ruling Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Center) and the main opposition CPN-UML have been separately making the same pitch in the ongoing poll campaigns, while accusing their rival parties of trying to take the provincial capital to another city.
Addressing an election rally on Sunday, Ghorahi mayoral candidate of all three parties said that their main agenda item was to make Dang the provincial capital.
"Our main goal is to make Dang the administrative hub of the province and develop it as the most dynamic city in the country," said Bhup Bahadur Dangi, NC's mayoral candidate for Ghorahi Sub-metropolitan City. UML's candidate for mayor Narulal Chaudhary and CPN (Maoist Center)'s candidate Jeevan Gautam also reaffirmed their parties' commitment to convert Dang into provincial capital.
Mayoral candidates of all three parties have also made public their blueprints to develop Dang as the provincial capital.
Interestingly, NC and UML candidates, even influential faces in the national politics, are distributing the same promises to voters in Butwal and Nepalgunj. Addressing an election rally in Butwal on Sunday, UML leader Bishnu Paudel said that Rupandehi should be made the provincial capital.
"UML wants to make Rupandehi the provincial capital. Our struggle for this will continue," said Paudel. Bal Krishna Khand, another leader from Butwal, has been making the exact same promise. In Nepalgunj, NC leader Farmullah Mansoor and UML Vice Chairman Bam Dev Gautam are reportedly telling voters that they would make Nepalgunj the provincial capital of the midwestern and farwestern regions.
It is important to note that none of the party has taken any official decision on the provincial capital.
Addressing an election rally on Sunday, Home Minister Janardan Sharma claimed that it was official position of his party to make Dang the administrative hub of the province while blaming other parties of not being sincere about the issue.
"This poll has come as a referendum for the people of Dang. It is time to decide whether you want to elect the Maoist Center that wants to keep the provincial capital in Dang or vote for the parties that are against it," said Sharma, who attended six different rallies in the district.
Even as some voters are taking the promises at face value, many other appear skeptical.
"Some people might get swayed by false promises. But most people are not going to buy those promises. Voters are able to figure out which party is telling the truth and which is not," said Bishnu Panthi of Ghorahi-13, who sells street food in the main bazar.
Political observers say political parties are promoting outright lies to win the elections. Such unhealthy competition among parties may create a problem in the long run, they added.
"It’s wrong and unethical to make promises that cannot be delivered. Its location makes Dang more suitable place for provincial capital than other cities of Province 5. Butwal, for instance, is inaccessible for mid-western districts like Rolpa. Parties should frame their message accordingly,” said Tej Prasad Kandel, a civil society member and senior advocate in Butwal.