KRISHNA SAPKOTA, KATHMANDU, July 10: Slowly and gradually we are finally heading towards bringing an end to the protracted transition in the country. Broadly the political campaign for peace and constitution has remained successful to sail the country to a different horizon. The country has come a long way to bail itself out from the abyss of crisis; yet again the road ahead is still not smooth to travel.
As an initial but important part of the constitution implementation process, two phases of civic polls were held in Provinces 1,3,4,5,6 and 7 and preparations are underway for conducting local elections in the eight districts of Province-2 in coming September.
The first of the three important elections to be held in the country with the implementation of the new constitution has very indeed helped craft the vision for tomorrow. First, the participatory event has woken up the people of every nooks and corners to use their political rights and form a ‘government-at-doorsteps’. Secondly, it is likely to reduce the burden of the central government allowing it to concentrate its efforts on other important works. Thirdly, the formation of local government will be instrumental to mobilize local resources for development, possibly decreasing Nepal’s dependency on conditional foreign aid.
Over 70 per cent voters’ turnout in the two phases of the local elections have manifested the people’s yearning for participation in political process, and to give an outlet to the country from the longstanding transition. The people from Province-2 will presumably not remain aloof from the crucial political activity to use their franchise, and assert their civil and political rights to demand development and better living conditions. The recent move of the agitating Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) to register with the Election Commission (EC) also indicates something of a positive development to that end.
However, the holding of local level elections will not complete the course. It is just an igniting start. It is constitutionally mandatory for the government to hold three tiers of elections – local, provincial and federal – within the stated date of 21 January 2018. The apex court had also mounted pressure on the government to meet the statutory deadline in holding all three tiers of elections. The conduction of two phases of local elections might have boosted the confidence of the government and Election Commission to hold the remaining third phase of local election, and of two other tiers. Taking into consideration the pressure of timeline, the government has to spring into action to make it happen in any pretext.
No doubt the first-of-its-kind Constitution promulgated by an absolute majority of the historic Constituent Assembly (CA) members is a document to open up avenues for stability and prosperity in the country. Nevertheless, the daunting challenge lies on making this a well-accepted national charter and thereby strengthening the national unity. So, amendment to the Constitution is obvious process to bring the disgruntled sides onboard so as to ensure that no one is left behind. This is the beauty of democracy to listen to the voices of people and enable environment for all to grow. Otherwise, it may aggravate cleavages and conflict and put the country into another vicious imbroglio.
Keeping in mind the dire consequences, the government, political parties and leaders should not be myopic to explore solutions to bring prosperity to the country. Henceforth, there can be no excuse for the responsible political actors and the government to dillydally and put brakes on the speed of much-needed development and prosperity. It was too much in the past and there is no space for inaction.
Meanwhile, the newly established local level government is expected to bring cheers to the faces of people. The expectation is natural as it is equipped with executive, legislative and judiciary authorities. With this, a local government can deliver and realize its functions. So a silver lining is already visible. The formative time is crucial to develop mechanisms to make people the partners of prosperity in the new setup by allowing space for their participation in the decision-making process. An informed citizenry can only take the stake of the local development process so the local governments should not be hesitant to ensure easy access to information held by them and pave the long march for prosperity.
The Constitution has guaranteed every citizen the fundamental right to seek and receive information of any matters of public importance by public agencies albeit some exceptions. The National Information Commission (NIC) has also issued circular to all 744 local levels to adhere to the constitutional right of the public to access information. Hence, the people-elected local representatives should be the first to be imparted training on how to effectively handle this affair. This will change the wide landscape of governance and facilitate the people’s representatives in fulfilling the commitments they made during the elections. It is hence a right point of departure for the representatives to realize their promises and needs of the people. Hence, information affairs should be made the core matter of governance at the local level.
We had endured stagnations in the past. But, we have the right time now to make a good start. We will never rise if we repeat mistakes for the same reasons. Rather we will always be in a position to accurse our destiny and survive a life marked with poverty and crisis. Hence, let’s cash in on the opportunity that lies at our threshold and make a definite journey towards peace and prosperity.