Elections 2017: Women candidates few and far between in NCThe Nepali Congress (NC) leadership met with severe criticism for low representation of women just as the party tried to quell the charges of nepotism and favouritism from some sections of leaders. The party on Wednesday was finalising candidates for the first-past-the-post (FPTP) category for the second phase of federal and provincial elections.
The Nepali Congress (NC) leadership met with severe criticism for low representation of women just as the party tried to quell the charges of nepotism and favouritism from some sections of leaders. The party on Wednesday was finalising candidates for the first-past-the-post (FPTP) category for the second phase of federal and provincial elections.
The nomination filing date for the second phase polls, scheduled for December 7, is November 2 (Thursday).
Those leaders who were earlier elected through the proportional representation (PR) system have been transferred to the FPTP category for federal parliament and provincial assemblies.
Most of the senior leaders, however, have opted to contest elections under the FPTP system.
Party President Sher Bahadur Deuba, General Secretary Shashank Koirala and senior leaders Ram Chandra Poudel, Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Ram Sharan Mahat, Prakash Sharan Mahat and Prakash Man Singh are the party’s FPTP candidates.
Under the PR category, mostly new faces have been chosen, except some names like Sujata Koirala, Chitra Lekha Yadav, Sujata Pariyar, Min Bahadur Bishokarma and Man Bahadur BK.
As far as the PR category is concerned, the leadership is facing charges that “nepotism and favouritism” ruled the roost.
Some NC members say those who are close to senior leaders have been picked as PR candidates. Shila Sharma, wife of Khum Bahadur Khadka, has been nominated as a PR candidate. Khadka, who is a member of the party’s Parliamentary Board, the apex body mandated with selecting candidates, is a corruption convict and has served a jail term. Similarly, Manju Khand, wife of senior leader Bal Krishna Khand has also been included in the party’s PR list. Goma KC, younger sister of senior leader Bal Bahadur KC, has also made it to the PR list. Minister for Education Gopal Man Shrestha’s personal secretary is also on the party’s PR list.
The likes of Sita Devi Yadav, Bal Krishna Khand, Padma Narayan Chaudhary, Bahadur Singh Lama Tamang and Parbata DC Chaudhary, who had won the 2013 CA elections under the FPTP system, are now on the PR list.
Leaders who had lost the 2013 CA elections under the FPTP system have been moved to the PR category. These leaders include Dilendra Badhu, Kishor Singh Rathour and Pushpa Bhusal.
Apart from Binod Chaudhary, businessmen Dibya Mani Rajbhandari, Devi Prasad Bhattachan, Jip Tshering Lama, Ananda Raj Mulmi and Anil Kumar Rangata also have been selected as the NC’s PR candidates. Bhattachan is chairman of Prabhu Bank while Mulmi is former president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Under the PR category, parties cannot skip their obligation of ensuring women’s representation as mentioned in election laws. But similar provision is not mandatory in the selection of FPTP candidates, hence the number of female candidates for federal parliament is too low.
A group of women NC leaders has complained that they were deliberately being sidelined.
Under the FPTP category, only five women candidates were picked until Wednesday evening. Arzoo Rana, wife of party President Deuba, Ambika Basnet, Ishwari Neupane, Maha Laxmi Upadhayay and Sarawoti Bajimaya have been finalised as the FPTP candidates, according to party sources.
In a meeting with party President Deuba a few days ago, NC leader Kamala Thapa had said women leaders who are capable and smart had been ignored while selecting candidates. According to NC leader Gagan Thapa, there are a couple of reasons behind poor representation of women candidates under the FPTP system. “Top leaders are not taking initiatives to groom women leaders and they lack a long-term vision,” said Thapa.
He said that senior women leaders who have already established themselves in national politics are resorting to the PR category, which has decreased the number of women candidates under the FPTP system. “If senior leaders contest under the FPTP category, more women will get a chance to become PR candidates,” he said. “Some women leaders had also expressed their willingness to contest the elections under the FPTP category, but they were not given the opportunity.”