Elections: Repeating History of Violence?

When leaders or parties lose their confidence to woo people through their policies and programmes, they resort to wielding violence to bring the election results to their favour.

By Sagar Ghimire

As November 19, the slated date for the Constituent Assembly election, draws closer, poll fever gradually grips the government, the Election Commission (EC) as well as the political parties. The EC is in full swing to make the election happen on the scheduled date. It enforced the Code of Conduct for the election and made the election time-table public too. Likewise, the government also held a meeting recently with security organs for the election to chart out a joint security strategy for the event.

However, political parties have failed to do their bit. Instead of forging a conducive and congenial environment to conduct the elections peacefully, the leaders of the parties are now fomenting violence through their speeches.
The unfortunate announcement from the CPN-Maoist to disrupt the election wasn’t as much a surprise as was the demand of the Nepali Congress leader and cadre to form their own ‘security squad’.

Though the NC president turned down the demand raised during the party’s Training of Trainers, the demand is indicative of the deeply embedded militant mindsets of the leaders and the cadres of all big parties.

The recent remark by UCPN (Maoist) Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal to mobilise 1000 Young Communist League cadres in each booth in response to the CPN-Maoist plan to deploy 10 cadres is tantamount to summon violent clashes in the upcoming elections.

Violence has become a part and parcel of elections in Nepal. Earlier elections in Nepal also had witnessed massive use of violence, coercion and force by the parties.

Political parties forming para-military forces and mobilising young goons during election campaigns and at poll booths epitomize proclivity of our leaders towards violence.

Flexing muscles, particularly during elections, to influence voters, frighten opponents and intimidate election officers does not only undermine the credibility of the election but also violates citizens’ fundamental right to vote in a free and fair manner. When leaders or parties lose their confidence to woo the people through their policy and programme, they resort to wielding violence to bring election results to their favour.

The CPN-Maoist party’s threat to disrupt polls by using force; UCPN (Maoist) Chairperson Dahal’s warning to counter the CPN-Maoist attempt; NC leaders and cadres pitting the idea of forming their own ‘security squad’; and rising aggression within the CPN (UML)’s sister-wing the Youth Association Nepal from notorious dons and hoodlums paint us a familiar picture of the forthcoming election — one marred with violence.

Fraught with violence, the CA election is also likely to be a battle ground for party leaders to exploit youths for their vested political interests.

Use of violence during elections gets exposed in the international front by international observers and media which ultimately becomes a matter of shame for the country.

The confrontations and clashes during the election are already imminent with parties, leaders and cadres that mull the formation of youth squads to use them in bringing the election results in their favour. The Election Commission has already executed the Code of Conduct and the government has prepared mechanisms to contain violence. Yet, these fall short in front of the unruly and unholy young goons, when they are shielded and patronised by their leaders.

If elections are to be held in a democratic, fair and peaceful manner, political leaders and their parties should make a sincere and honest commitment to shun violence. The government should make sure that no element that inflicts violence is spared. Political parties should value peoples’ power over violence and try not to repeat our history of electoral violence.

Ghimire works with New Business Age, a monthly magazine. He can be followed on Twitter: @nepocean

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One thought on “Elections: Repeating History of Violence?”

  1. Ghimire writes the truth here and his words of warning should be heeded by political leaders on all sides. Leadership for peace and democratic elections based on nonviolence must take precedence over partisan political greed. Who will answer the challenge? Perhaps the people will once again be driven to raise their voices in the streets of Kathmandu and the valleys of far western Nepal. Where is the Gandhi of Nepal when needed?

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