BIRGUNJ, March 29: Birgunj sub-metropolitan city of Parsa district, the center of the six-month Madhes protests last year, has now been rejuvenated with enthusiasm and excitement generated by the upcoming local polls.
Although the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UMDF) is up in arms against the election, its efforts have failed to dampen the election spirit in the district, which is getting stronger day by day. Many locals of the country’s trade hub Birgunj believe that elections bring development and prosperity.
However, the current political situation has forced many locals to protest against the election. As a large numbers of Madhesi people resonate with UMDF’s stance, civil society leaders have stressed the need for making the election acceptable to a larger audience and making it dispute-free.
Civil society leaders are of the opinion that locals want an election which includes the protesting UDMF as well. They believe that the election should be conducted not amid security concerns, but with huge enthusiasm.
Ashok Temani, industrialist and civil society leader
The election should be conducted for development. Such local elections are not as political as the parliamentary elections, and hence hold significant importance. We have already waited for 20 years for this, which is not a joke. Civil servants who get transferred from time to time do not love the local places as much as the elected local representatives.
Development in Birgunj, a small and one of the developed cities in Nepal, has remained stagnant due to the lack of local representatives. Such negativity can harm development and diminish the trade attraction of the place. The government is responsible for the welfare of the people, and that’s why it should ensure that election takes place as planned.
Elections are essential for development. We must be able to take the upcoming election as a festival. We all must participate in the local level election. However, if you talk about Madhes, people are still not very confident. During the time of constitution promulgation, people in Madhes did not celebrate. This should not happen in this election.
For this, the government must be able to address the issues or grievances of the people of Madhes. The most important matter is the sense of ownership or belongingness. That is where the state has missed out. All the major parties must get united on this and solve the problem. We want peace and progress. We definitely want elections. However, we are aware that the situation is not easy in Madhes and efforts have to be made to clear the way.
Pannalal Gupta,advocate and civil society leader
It is very important to hold the elections for all three levels because it is very important to implement the constitution. For the sake of the country, for stability, development and peace, this is simply a must. We all understand that there is no easy situation in Madhes. Some sections are not willing to join the election process. They were not happy when the constitution was promulgated. The dissatisfaction has not dissolved. Now, it is the responsibility of the government to win the confidence of all the major parties and move ahead with the election.
When all parties are ready to embrace it, it can really be a huge success. It must be an election for all the parties. Nobody should be left out. If some parties are demanding amendment, that must be taken care of. Genuine matters must be addressed and elections should take place.
Ram Narayan Kurmi,lawyer
We want the government to address all issues of the agitating parties to ensure the local election. If those issues are not resolved, elections may happen but what about the security of the people? As there have been talks about providing three tiers of security during the elections, then who will we vote for? How can we freely go to the polling station for casting votes by risking our lives?
‘At any cost’ has become a catchphrase these days. On the one hand, the government is saying ‘we will conduct the elections at any cost’ while, on the other, the Madhes-centric parties have been saying ‘we will thwart the local elections at any cost’. This has placed the people between a rock and a hard place and this is the reason why locals are dealing with uncertainty.
Ibrahim Debwan,teacher and civil society leader
It has almost been two decades since our country has not conducted local elections. In the absence of the people’s representatives, civil servants have been running the local bodies. This has made the locals suffer a lot for a long time, hampering progress and development. If the government successfully conducts the local level election, that will change the development scenario at the local level. People want the local election to happen but they also think that the demands of the Madhes-based parties are not unethical either. The government cannot turn a deaf ear to these issues. It will be better if the government brings all parties on board the election process.