The system—if there was one—that major parties adopted to select their candidates for November 20 elections has not gone down well with their rank and file, least of all the voters.
The candidate selection process was entirely dictated by top leaders. Despite instructing the grassroots and local members to recommend candidates, the top leaders did not consider the name list.
Under the proportional representation category, the same old faces who have been in power politics for more than three decades, got nominated. Those close to top leaders also got election tickets, while the deserving candidates were sidelined.
There are also reports that there was a heavy influence of money in the candidate selection process.
Under the first-past-the-post category, top leaders of major parties, such as the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, and CPN (Maoist Center), have denied tickets to those party members who have been known to be critical of them.
UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli refused to hand the election ticket to his rivals Bhim Rawal and Ghana Shyam Bhushal. In the Congress, the likes of Minendra Rijal and Swarnim Wagle were excluded. And in the Maoist party, its chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal is facing criticism for picking those party members near and dear to him.
The candidate selection process has once again brought to the fore the absence of democratic culture inside political parties. For a democracy to prosper, it is imperative for parties to lead by example. But this has never been a case for Nepali political parties. Parties that identify as democratic resemble feudal enterprises. Their top leaders are drunk with power and thereby racked with extreme insecurity. And so, they surround themselves with lackeys and toadies and plot the downfall of their detractors. It is for this exact reason why deserving party members do not get election tickets. The faux-democratic parties of Nepal might be right. When a leader ascends to power, he takes the same approach to governing his party and the country: like a mad dictator.
True democracy will never prosper in Nepal, unless parties and their power-addled leaders learn to listen to and acknowledge opposing views, for dissent is essential in a democracy. Young leaders and members should take note and take the initiative to reform their parties.