October 11, 2018 02:00 AM NPT
Three-time Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bamdev Gautam of ruling Nepal Communist Party is desperate to get elected as member of federal parliament one more time. Lawmaker Rambir Manandhar of Kathmandu-7 of the same party on Tuesday announced to renounce his post to help the party’s senior leader return to the legislature. This not only goes against the public sentiment but also against the spirit of the new constitution and new election law. After finding powerful leaders of various political parties misusing the provision of allowing one candidate to run in more than one constituency, the latest election law clearly prohibited any candidate from running in multiple constituencies. “The [election] commission shall scrap candidacy of a candidate if the person is found to be running from multiple constituencies,” says the election law. It also banned a candidate contesting election under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) category to be enlisted under Proportional Representation (PR) category as well. So the spirit of the new constitution and new election law was to provide equal playing field for all candidates and not to treat anyone as more special.
However, the NCP leaders have treated the parliamentary post as not more than an intra-party matter and as a position transferrable from one leader to the other. This mustn’t be a matter of give-and-take between two comrades of the NCP or expressing one’s respect to party’s senior leader in return for certain favor made by the powerful leader. If the ruling party decides to hold a by-election in a country just to appease a powerful leader or to settle intra-party feuds that is abuse of authority. If that is the case as assumed by many, this is a total disrespect to the public and betrayal to the voters, who voted Manandhar just a year ago. People have already expressed their ire on social media against the ruling party for its plan to spend millions of rupees from the state coffers to hold the by-election. If the ruling party undermines this public sentiment, it may cost dearly for the party and its leaders.
Of course, a party is free to elect a leader it deems eligible for the post. But to seem to act as if a single leader would be indispensable for the party and the national politics just does not seem right. Gautam was rejected by voters in Bardiay in the election last year. And if he had done something worthwhile, perhaps there would be no opposition to his candidacy on the social media. Nepali leaders seem to think they can’t stay out of the power and can’t live without enjoying state facilities. In a democracy, a leader or certain leaders should not enjoy the privileges. Constitutional norms, the spirit of the law and aspirations of people should be above all else.