Parties throw lavish feasts to woo voters

Published On: September 4, 2017 01:46 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

LAHAN, Sept 3: With the election just around the corner, political parties in Madhes are in fierce competition to throw away grand feasts. Considered as the best tactics to woo voters, political parties are organizing feasts everywhere. More interestingly, when a party offers feast at a place, another party seems to follow suit the very next day. 

“If one party is feeding chicken, another offers mutton. That way, they are trying to bring voters to their side,” stated a business person from Bhotiyaltol, Lahan - 11, requesting anonymity. “People are getting to eat delicacies everyday,” he added. 

Such feasts are locally called Bhandara. Those who participate in Bhandara and enjoy meals are keenly watched by party cadres. However, people have been participating in such feasts irrespective of which party organizes the feast. 

“A very common understanding is that if any contestant comes for election campaign, there is Bhandara,” a businessman clarified. “And in such Bhandara, we can see people of all age groups from children to elderly,” he added. 

 Most of the election contestants are well off. Organizing Bhandara is not a big deal for them, according to the locals. A liquor seller from Gadhiyachow, Lahan - 23, who also requested anonymity, said that he is doing brisk business these days. “There is no bhandara without meat and liquor,” he stated. “If you offer no liquor or meat, they won't come even to listen to your speech. Leaders are quite aware of this,” he explained. 

The current situation is so interesting that locals do not have to ask for liquor, he further stated. “Political parties know that beforehand and manage all such things pretty well,” he stated.  “Daru, murga are important for parties both during night or day,” he added. 

According to the locals, bhandara culture is in practice in entire eight districts of Province 2 where the local level election is slated for September 18. 

The election commission has set the limit for election cost. To contest for the post of mayor, one cannot exceed election campaign cost of Rs 700,000. Similarly, contestant for the post of deputy mayor may spend up to Rs 500,000 while below Rs 300,000 is the limit for other local body contestants.  

However, according to the contestants, the margin is simply not realistic. According to them, Rs 1 million is needed even to contest for the lowest post. Requesting anonymity, a ward member contestant said that money is most essential to contest election. 
“Those who cannot spend lavishly in election have least chances of winning,” he said.  


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