People mulling independent runs for federal seats begin consultationsMembers of a network named ‘Swatantra Ummedwar Abhiyan’ are holding national consultations in Kathmandu on July 1 and 2.
The victories of several independents in the recent local elections have encouraged many others to compete in the upcoming provincial and federal elections.
A group of such aspirants including individuals associated with social campaigns like ‘enough is enough’ and the supporters of medical reforms crusader Dr Govinda KC on Monday held a meeting to discuss collaboration among themselves in the upcoming elections. The dates for the elections, which are expected later this year, have yet to be announced.
“We will be meeting again in the upcoming weeks,” Pukar Bam, a Bibeksheel Sajha Party leader who has publicly expressed his desire to contest in the federal elections from Kathmandu constituency-1, told the Post. “There is a common understanding that independent candidates should be organised. However, we have yet to work out the details of collaboration.”
A group of campaigners, who have formed a network named “Swatantra Ummedwar Abhiyan” (independent candidates campaign), are travelling from places to places seeking suggestions from the people on how to take their campaign for federal polls ahead. Dambar Shahu, coordinator of the campaign, said they aim to transform politics.
“It is clear the country’s politics needs transformation and reformation. For that, capable youths should be at the helm of politics,” Shahu told the Post. “We basically want to see competent youths contesting the elections independently. But if any political party fields competent candidates, we are open to supporting them.”
Shahu’s team on Saturday consulted the people from Butwal seeking their suggestions to devise electoral strategy.
The campaign has planned national consultations in Kathmandu for two days on July 1 and 2. The campaign was formed before the local elections and extended support to independent candidates in various parts of the country, according to Shahu.
In the last local elections in 2017, independent candidates had won just four local units—municipalities and the rural municipalities. This time 13 independents won mayoral and rural municipality chair positions.
Independent candidates are buoyed especially by the wins of Balen Shah and Harka Sampang Rai as mayors of Kathmandu and Dharan, respectively. Besides Bam, Suman Sayami and Ranju Darshana have announced their intent to contest for various federal seats. Sayami, who fought for Kathmandu mayor in last month’s local elections, secured 13,000 votes for fourth highest votes.
Darshana is a former leader of the Bibeksheel Sajha who had contested for Kathmandu mayor in 2017. She secured 23,439 votes to finish third in the race, which was won by CPN-UML’s Bidhya Sundar Shakya.
Similarly, Dr Nicholas Bhusal from Butwal has announced that he wants to contest from Rupandehi constituency-2. “We are encouraged by the consultations. People say they are willing to vote for competent independent candidates,” said Shahu. “So at the next month’s consultations, we will devise our strategy for the federal elections.”
Meanwhile, those in the campaign have two types of views about how they should move forward–one opinion is they should form a new political party and another is they will be better off contesting as independents. “If we contest the polls by forming a party then we can benefit from the proportional representation votes from across the country,” said Bam. “However, there is also a strong voice that people don’t want yet another political party, so we can do better fighting as independents.”