LAHAN, Dec 5: With the commencement of the election silence for the second phase of parliamentary and provincial assembly elections from Monday midnight, poll observers and common citizens are speculating whether the contesting candidates and political parties would observe the elections silence.
The silent period begins 48 hours before the polls, during which the voters, candidates, poll observers, media and the election officers reflect on their preparations so as to make informed decisions, according to the Election Commission (EC).
Voters and candidates in Siraha district are aware of the election silence. However, past elections in the district make one pessimistic about the effective implementation of election silence.
A majority of the politicians takes the election silence as an opportunity to sway voters at the last moment. The period is taken as a chance to completely change the outcome of the elections. This is why candidates have been taking the election silence as an opportunity to launch intense election campaigns, unofficially.
Such examples are common in Madhes. Those candidates who blatantly violate the spirit of silence period and intensely work on wooing voters have managed to upset much stronger opponents.
Those who have observed the election campaigns say candidates usually pay money to voters during the election silence. Certain amount of money is paid to the voters known to be undecided or affiliated with opponents to get their votes.
“Some candidates even sign written agreement with voters in exchange of money,” a local politician said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It is estimated that Siraha has about 40 percent of swing voters out of the total. Those candidates who can influence such voters during the election silence to support them usually emerge victorious.
Mangal Devi Paswan, 40, of Gudigaun in Lahan-10, said many people knock her doors at night time to ask for votes. “I have already lost the count. They request us to vote them, saying that they would help us at difficult times. That is how they try to woo us,” she said.