4-10 October 2013 #676

6 weeks to go

The November elections is being held in a time of uncertainty, with neither the excitement nor the preparation that the country saw in 2008. It is as if the political parties ran out of excuses to keep postponing polls and have no alternative but to see it through. The CPN-M, despite its tough talk of shutdowns and protests, risks being marginalised.

The NC and UML now think elections are the only way to shorten the lifespan of the chief justice-led interim electoral council. The UCPN (M) is worried about the effect its split will have on the result and would have liked to put the polls off. Sensing the unfavourable mood in the midhills, the party is concentrating in the Tarai, especially districts with large concentrations of hill settlers. The fragmented parties representing the Madhes are so hopelessly split that they may end up cancelling each other out in many constituencies. The four have a tacit understanding not to let their most senior leaders lose.

Among the parties, the UML has fielded the most new faces. The NC tried, but just couldn’t balance pressure from powerful party figures. The UCPN (M) was so desperate for candidates, it gave an NC defector a ticket overnight. All the parties have had a hard time finding women candidates to fill their quotas and none of them have more than 12 per cent female candidates. An NC aspirant who came to file his nomination, ended up having to give his seat to his wife. And Padam Kunwar, the former guerrilla who publicly slapped Maoist Chairman Dahal last year, is standing against him in Kathmandu as an independent candidate.