Silence not befalling in social media during election silent period

Published On: May 12, 2017 07:31 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 12: Although we are in silent period mandated by the election code of conduct, it appears that people, including politicians, candidates and voters, seem to continue soliciting votes or conducting such campaign in figurative languages in the social media. 

Take for instance producer Nischal Basnet's latest tweet that illustrates the adage 'As you sow, so you reap'. 
It is evident that Basnet is urging the voters to cast their vote to the right candidates than voting for the wrong one being swayed after the known ones. 

The tweet went viral as soon as the youngest mayoral candidate in the country's history, Ranju Darshana, re-tweeted it. Reactions, comments flooded on the Basnet's tweet as it reflects the voters' psyche of electing the wrong people's representative in the past. 

The last local level election was held in the country some 19 years ago. The silent period for the upcoming local level election came into effect since Thursday midnight at 5 pm and that lasts until the election day. 

It is enforced to allow the voters, candidates and election officials to reflect on the preparations for the poll. No election publicity campaign is permitted during this period by any means, including social networking sites. 
The first phase of election is being held on May 14 from 7 am to 5 pm in various 34 districts of province no 3, 4 and 6. 

Although the code of conduct prohibits election campaigning through social media, many voters and candidates like Basnet and Darshana are found engaging in online deliberation over the upcoming election. 
Twitter users have voiced their opinions, for and against many leaders and lashed out at people's representatives elected in the past given their lackadaisical attitude towards the development works and economic agendas. 

Politicians too don’t seem to shy away from online publicity of the election as they are employing figurative languages to attract the voters. As the election silence period is coming second day, they are still found expressing their political preferences to influence the voters. 

One among them is CPN (UML) secretary Yogesh Bhattarai whose afternoon's Facebook status reads, "The sun shines even in the silent period! Hail the Sun God, Hail the Sunflower." 

The sun is the election symbol of the CPN (UML) and Bhattarai's mention of sun is aimed at promotion of the party's election symbol. 

Promptly came the suggestive Facebook's status from Nepali Congress (NC) youth leader Pratima Gautam. Her Facebook status reads, "Cool breeze is blowing in the silent period. No coolness if no tree. Tree is life and tree is the world, and we must to realise this." 

Dilliram Subedi, Vice President of the Nepal Students Union, quickly shared Gautam's status in a promotional bid. 

It may be noted that the tree is the election symbol of the Nepali Congress. 

Similarly, as the silent period continues, so does the online publicity from candidates from other political parties. 

One for CPN (Maoist-Center) mayoral candidate Sarbottam Dangol, contesting for the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. Dangol, shared his interview published in one online in his Facebook fan's page. where he claimed himself as a 'competent' candidate for the post. 

Journalist Adhyeta KC, who is regularly keeping his tabs over the social sites, viewed that "to impose code of conduct on social media is itself contradictory." 

Social sites are widely available. More, the May 14 first-phase local-level election is taking place only in three provinces of the country. "There is no mechanism to check out from where election publicity materials are being posted on social networking sites and this is not practical as well." 

If we talked about the election code of conduct, campaigning for and against any political party and candidate in the silent period cannot be considered to be an ethical practice. But side by side, freedom of expression is never supposed to be curtailed under any circumstances, KC asserted. RSS 

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