Complaints against Hamro Nepali Party candidates for trying to cash in on Balen Shah’s ‘image’Dinesh Thapaliya, the chief election commissioner, says his office is studying the complaints.
In recent local elections, Balen Shah and Harka Sangpang Rai won the mayoral race with cane (lauro) as their election symbol.
Shah and Rai defeated candidates from the five-party alliance and CPN-UML in the Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City, respectively.
Inspired by their victory, a group of individuals, mainly professionals, started a “lauro abhiyan” (cane campaign), encouraging qualified youths to contest the elections challenging party leaders who have dominated electoral politics for decades.
A few weeks before the government on August 5 announced that it would hold the elections for the House of Representatives and provincial assemblies on November 20, they formed a new party—Hamro Nepali Party—with a cane as their election symbol.
The overwhelming support the independent candidates got in the local polls encouraged them and many others to contest the federal and provincial assembly elections. The party has fielded 65 candidates under the first-past-the-post for the lower house and 101 for the provincial assemblies.
Now, as the polling day inches closer, the party’s candidates have got dragged into controversies. They have been accused of trying to cash in on Shah’s “image” and his slogan during the local election campaign.
“Balen Shah told us that he hasn’t extended his support to any of the candidates. However, the aspirants from Hamro Nepali Party were seeking votes, saying that they have his support,” Dinesh Thapaliya, chief election commissioner, told the Post.
“We also have received complaints that the party’s candidates have been copying Shah’s slogan, without his consent. Also, despite contesting elections as party candidates, they were seeking votes saying they were independent candidates.”
“Baa aama lai tekaune, bhrastachari lai sekaune” (“a cane to support your old parents, a cane to beat the corrupt with”), became popular during Shah’s election campaign.
“We have told the Election Commission that it can take action against such candidates, if their actions result in the violation of the election code of conduct,” Bhupa Dev Shah, secretary to Shah, the mayor at the Kathmandu Metropolis, told the Post. “It is now up to the Election Commission to decide.”
Thapaliya, meanwhile, has said that candidates from a particular party seeking votes claiming themselves to be independents is tantamount to fraud. He said that when candidates contest the elections on the ticket of a particular party, they must identify themselves as party candidates as it is their party that decides their tickets and they are guided by their party’s policies and principles.
The party’s leadership, however, refused to acknowledge that they ever claimed that their candidates had Balen Shah’s support.
Ananta Raj Ghimire, the Hamro Nepali Party chairperson, said that his party wants to see people like Balen and Harka in Parliament.
“Their names are taken to showcase what type of representatives we need in Parliament. Our party has clearly said that we don’t have any support from Balen,” Ghimire told the Post. “Our candidates are contesting the elections under the party banner. They haven’t projected themselves as independents.”
Talking to the Post last month, Ghimire, however, had said that the Hamro Nepali Party was different to the traditional forces and more than a party, it was a network of people having a similar vision—to make their motherland a better place.
He had also claimed at the time that those elected from the party would be free to function independently. However, unlike those elected as independents, the ones elected as party candidates are legally bound to follow their party’s principles.
Thapaliya, the chief election commissioner, said the commission is currently studying the complaints made against the candidates from the party and would take the necessary decisions soon.
“The commission plans to decide on the complaints filed until Wednesday, by Saturday. “The actions will depend on the severity of the charges against the candidates,” said Thapaliya.