Whole bunch of liesThe manifestos of big parties are more a reflection of their lust for power than of their commitment to the people and the country.
After weeks, even months, of homework, big political parties have come up with their election manifestos which hardly anyone is going to read let alone believe. From infrastructure to jobs, free electricity to free water, bigger allowance for senior citizens to business-facilitation, everything is there in the manifestos. The parties are either repeating themselves or saying things that are simply unachievable in the next five years. In the academic world, these manifestos would have been rejected through the preliminary review process itself on charges of self-plagiarism. Be that as it may, what is still missing in those manifestos is a clear roadmap to fulfil those mostly stale promises. The parties know that the documents they have produced and disseminated are no more than manifestos for their elevation to power. They are intent on playing with people's emotions yet again.
No matter what promises the parties make about Nepal's road to prosperity, all they seemingly care about is paving the roads to Baluwatar and Singha Durbar. They have done this in the past, and have shown no inclination to learn from their mistakes. If anything, the manifestos are testimony to the tradition of fraud and deceit that the political parties have continued in the past many decades. The leaders may not remember what they scribble in their manifestos, but the public does recall what they were promised last time. And unlike earlier times, the people are displaying their memory power on social media with the "No, Not Again" campaign, among other avenues of public expression. This has rattled the established parties as well as the establishment, which is evident in the undemocratic way in which speaking up against tried and tested leaders has been turned into a crime. In their desperate attempts to get a grip over the narrative, major leaders have started presenting counter-narratives of "Once More". The fact that a social media campaign has brought political biggies on their knees is fascinating, perhaps the most interesting event this election season.
The political parties have neither fulfilled their promises in the past, nor do they show any sign of doing so in the next few years. The leaders' perception of the people remains the same—of a gullible lot that can be duped each time. But some fundamental changes have become apparent in the public mindset of late. Although the parties are not fully aware of the magnitude of such change, they seem to have sensed, though barely, which way the wind is blowing. They are using the state mechanism to silence voices on social media, which is now one of the most important platforms for alternative voices. The games that the top parties and their leaders are playing this election season hints of their underlying nervousness about what is to come. And as they sense the turning of tables, they are going back to the same-old tropes of running ships with Nepali banners on high seas (CPN-UML) and ‘pregnancy to death’ guarantees (Nepali Congress). The feasibility of such promises is the least of their concerns as they enter a full campaigning mode.