The Popularity of Balen in Local Election

Kathmandu Update

Balen has slapped the cheeks of the leaders who are trying to enslave the voters in local election of Nepal

Counting of votes in the local elections is still going on in the metropolis and sub-metropolis, but the overall picture of the result is clear. Independent candidate for mayor Balen Sah (Balendra Sah) has brought a tsunami in this election even more than the party mathematics of Harjit. Prior to the nomination, many had not heard of Balen’s name, except for one young man who was interested in music.

Even after his candidature, many could not believe that he was a ‘serious candidate’. In this column two years ago, when I expressed my intense dissatisfaction and distaste towards the candidates given by Congress and the UML, I could not find any clue about the Balen factor. Probably because he is not a voter of the metropolis, its undercurrent did not reach him.

The counting of votes in the Kathmandu metropolis is a little more than half over, but the counting so far, and the differences between the second and third contestants, it seems almost certain that Balen’s victory will not go unnoticed by anyone. Initially, his lead was expected to be limited to the votes of wards outside the old main settlements of Kathmandu. But he is getting votes from almost all the wards. He is also getting significant votes from the traditional Newar-dominated constituency. It is also seen that voters are not attracted by raising the issues of Adivasi and culture of Kathmandu. This is breaking some of the misconceptions and myths about the psychology of Kathmandu voters so far. This is the subject of separate research. Its depth cannot be understood by superficial study and conjecture.

Although Balen is not the only independent candidate; Harkar Raj Rai in Dharan, Gopal Hamal in Dhangadhi and Manoj Kumar Sah in Janakpur are also in the news. Independent candidates have also won in some other constituencies. But it cannot be said that the wave of independence came just because of that. In Janakpur, there is a long line of rebel candidates and they have won. Gopal Hamal is also old, already known as a social engineer and businessman. Earlier, they had contested the election and lost by a narrow margin. Rai of Dharan is also known as a social engineer. Its impact is not far from the local municipality. But the name of Balen Shah, a young Madhesi who was born and raised in Kathmandu, has never been heard of before. His rise far from the party circle has challenged the electoral arithmetic of political parties. His candidacy and seemingly certain victory is not limited to the perimeter of the Kathmandu metropolis.

I do not want to compare this panic of Balen in the Kathmandu election with the votes received by Nanimaiya Dahal at any time during the Panchayat period. Yes, one nature is the same. Both reflect widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo politics. Nanimaiya’s vote was a symbol of ridicule towards the Panchayat, it was a negative vote. But Balen’s vote is not like that. His vote is an expression of dissatisfaction with the Congress, the Communist Party, but not a negative one, it is a positive vote for the alternative. Nanimaiya was not a worthy character, the voters did not even believe that she would get proper representation of her vote. But Balen seems worthy, capable. You have come with the challenge that you can’t, we can. The Balen factor in Kathmandu’s politics did not come overnight because of his inclinations or any narrow interests. There are many independent candidates like him, but why the interest of voters is not in them? Some young people may have been affected by her ‘rapper’ personality, but that alone is not enough. Apart from the youth, the entire metropolis has got the vote and this vote is also definite.

Balen’s vote has caused panic not only in the Kathmandu metropolis but across the country. Alleged analysts are shocked. Their guess is like throwing a stone in the dark. But the voters and the people are happy. Every vote he has received has slapped the cheeks of the leaders who are trying to enslave the voters. Although Renu, the daughter of Vijayanikat, got the post of mayor of Bharatpur metropolis and gave relief to Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, the Balen

factor is also a challenge for her. Due to the inaction of the leaders and the parties, Nepal’s politics is in a state of turmoil. If their behavior and performance does not improve, it is also a premonition of the emergence of many Balens in the coming days. It is time for parties to think in new ways about party, candidate and voter relations.

Valen’s candidacy and vote-taking scenario are slightly different, separate from traditional political propaganda. . It is planned, digital and indicates successful management. The group and power that worked for Ranju Darshan in the last election is also behind Balen. That power seems determined for political intervention. But the thing to consider is that the vote brought by Ranju Darshana in the last election was not of a discriminating party, the party was only a reflection. The same was the vote of common candidate Kishor Thapa. But when the two parties get together, it is said that it will become bigger. That illusion was immediately erased. Discretionary-sharers were not entitled to it. Balen’s vote is organized, but it has not yet taken shape. Without a breakthrough of victory, it will not be revealed. Balen’s victory is a new experiment in Nepal’s politics, especially at the local level, it should not fail, it should be prevented from failure.

Kathmandu’s political society has been criticized from time to time. There is a tendency not to take the initiative, to rejoice in what others have done, and to make quick negative comments. However, Kathmandu has a decisive place in every political change in Nepal. Until Kathmandu wakes up, the seat of power will not be shaken. But what to do, after every change, the first glorification of those who are considered to be the Messiah also happens after coming here! Whether they are Maoists or Madhesis, no one has been able to come up with an exception in this matter. When I come here, I get the mentality that I am big, I am a ruler. Their daily life becomes very different from that of ordinary citizens. The society of Kathmandu is also plagued by greed and fear of power. I am thrilled by the rise of Balen Shah. But I am afraid that the aristocratic mentality and atmosphere here will make it useless, won’t it?

The main parties in this election are still the big parties. On the one hand, the five-party ruling coalition and on the other hand, the opposition CPN-UML were alone. However, at the local level, there are many forms of electoral coordination in the candidature and voting results. No matter how intense the polarization is, parties and candidates who do not coordinate with each other are often not seen at the municipal and ward levels. This also shows that such methodological party affiliation is not necessary in local elections. This is only the prestige of the leaders and parties, not the will of the voters. This election was not fought on any political, economic or social issue. One was to protect the ruling coalition, the other was to run for office. Therefore, the leaders resorted to extremely low-level insults, not a single political level speech was heard.

It is natural for the ruling coalition to win a majority of seats. The Nepali Congress and the Maoist Center have benefited the most. The Janata Socialists have found it very difficult to maintain the status quo, while the existence of the Unified Socialists, split from the UML, has been approved by the elections, albeit in a small size. His candidature for the post of Hetauda sub-metropolitan chief has been won and his political prestige will be further enhanced if the ongoing lead in Pokhara metropolitan chief turns into victory. However, the party has not been able to establish its own existence without an alliance. The votes it has brought alone are negligible. Its independent existence does not seem so secure.

Looking at the overall results of the election, the situation of the opposition UML is much worse than before. The party, which used to be the first and agile power, has now lost about 100 seats to the second. The effect of the alliance is bound to be, but the main factor in this ejaculation is division. The Oli leadership and the group cannot be irresponsible towards this result by making the other party responsible only for the division. Yes, the Unified Socialist Party has proved to be a great tool to defeat the UML, but the stark reality is that Oli’s solo performance has not proved fruitful. The UML itself needs to self-examine and reconsider its organization and leadership.

Looking at the results of the Madhes municipalities, the Democratic Socialists have suffered the most in terms of party affiliation. It is difficult to preserve the status quo in terms of number of victories, but its position does not seem to be strong. However, the existence and role of JSP and LSP in Madhesi politics has not diminished. Although the major parties have increased their numbers, they have not been able to significantly increase their voter turnout. The potential of regional political parties is only in Madhes, not in the hills. The votes received by Jaspa and some other identity parties in the hills also confirm that. Its victory is limited to the vice-chairmen of two villages in the eastern hills, Ilam and Khotang, and the chairman of one village in Okhaldhunga, also in support of the coalition. Jaspa should be able to identify his constituency well and maintain confidence in it.

Despite a few exceptions and grievances, the ruling coalition has been a boon to the leaders, a ground for claiming victory for their party. It is almost certain that this alliance will continue in the federal parliamentary and state elections as well. It is a shame to say that the government is stable, but for the sake of parliamentary stability, due to the electoral system, an alliance is also needed in the parliamentary and state elections. The political system is also strengthened if a healthy culture of alliance is established. Although the Congress seems to have a big advantage in terms of number of seats, its political advantage is slightly different. The Congress is not one in the electoral alliance, but the problem is with the leadership. Those in the leadership should be able to bring conscience. This victory at the local level is likely to make Deuba’s leadership in the Congress more rigid and conservative. This could do more harm to the Congress internally than benefit the coalition.

Finally, there is something to be said about election management. There is no point in holding local elections next time if there is such management. The sluggishness and torment of the counting of votes is in its place, but even more difficult is the difficulty of the voters and the problem of voting. Three things need to be reconsidered and improved.

First, we do not have the capacity to hold local elections in a single phase or day. It should be less partisan and more decentralized. Second, there was no such ballot, it is nonsense. Due to this, there are instances where votes were not cast in the right place and a large number of votes were spoiled. Nanglo did not fool the voters with countless election symbols without candidates. Ballot papers should be easy for the voters, not for the convenience of the Election Commission. Once the candidates are confirmed, standard ballot papers can be printed in the districts. This is not a difficult task in today’s age of technology, decentralized management is essential in the work of the Commission. As ballot printing is a sensitive issue, vigilance and security are required, that is the job of the commission and the government. Third, the option of a voting machine should be used together and the handprint should be gradually replaced.