Editorial: Upper House losing reputation
The Election Commission (EC) is holding National Assembly polls on January 25 to fill 19 seats that are becoming vacant on March 4. The EC has published the final list of candidates contesting the election. However, the major parties, mainly the Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Center), have faced a backlash from their cadres and people alike over the selection of candidates.
The upper house serves as an eclectic council of experts and scholars that advises the House of Representatives. It plays an important role in making the lower house and the government accountable. However, the selection of candidates by major parties tells a different story. Leaders, who were rejected by voters in the House of Representatives (HoR) elections multiple times, have been granted tickets. Such practice undermines the spirit of the upper house as the dominance of same old defeated faces in parliament discourages youth leaders within major parties. There is deep dissatisfaction over the selection of candidates within the NC. Moreover, parties have violated the principle of inclusion in candidate selection. The Nepali Congress, for example, doesn’t have a single candidate representing the Madhes region.
Not only the Nepali Congress, the Maoist Center and CPN-UML have, in the past, appointed leaders who lost House of Representatives elections to the upper house. Since its formation in 2018, only a few experts have been sent to the upper house. This has tarnished the status and glory of the upper house. Contrary to its intended role as the conscience keeper of parliament, the National Assembly has failed to function independently due to excessive influence of government and political parties.
The top leaders of major parties, however, appear unaffected by the backlash over candidate selection. The major parties need to to take this matter seriously, as the diminishing trust of the people toward parliamentary bodies poses a threat to democracy as a whole. At a time when some people are criticizing the 2015 Constitution and democracy, unpopular decisions by major parties will further erode public trust in the current system. Therefore, parties must address this issue seriously and work toward restoring the reputation of parliament.
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