Electioneering leaders ignore policy issues, trade blows in blame gamePolitical parties lack a clear vision for development, say analysts.
Election campaigns this time are fraught with negativity with political parties and candidates spending more of their energy on pointing fingers at rivals than presenting to the voters their own strengths, vision and policies.
The chiefs of three big parties—the CPN-UML, the Nepali Congress and the CPN (Maoist Centre)—are claiming they had the key role in incorporating the updated map of Nepal that included Lipulek, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani into the constitution.
Congress President and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and UML chair KP Sharma Oli were already claiming credit for the Lipulek-Limpiyadhura-Kalapani map. Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal joined the shouting match on Wednesday.
While inaugurating the party’s election campaign in Darchula, Oli announced that he would not “allow a single inch of our land to be encroached upon”.
A day after Oli’s announcement, Deuba reached his home district Dadeldhura in the far west and answered Oli saying that “making a statement in Darchula won’t help a bit”.
Addressing a campaign rally of the ruling alliance in Darchula on Wednesday, Dahal lashed out at Oli. Instead of introducing his party's policies to the public, Dahal challenged Oli, saying that he would not be prime minister for the third time.
“I am ashamed to know that Oli still wants a majority in the elections to form the government,” Dahal told the mass meeting. “How he has the moral standing to again demand a majority in parliament even though he tried his best to dissolve the parliament, twice. I challenge Oli to become prime minister for the third time.”
Dahal often claims that Oli became prime minister with his support, both times but now, he said, he wouldn’t support him.
Darchula’s is just a case in point as to how leaders are engaged in blame games instead of coming up with new ideas and convincing voters with their proposals.
The parties that have raised issues of inclusion and participatory system previously, have remained conspicuously silent on these issues during their election campaigns. There are so many other pressing issues concerning the general people’s livelihoods that require policy formulation. Yet, the political parties are focused only on criticising their opponents in their election campaigns.
There are numerous agendas that need political action such as the issue of creating employment opportunities. Political parties frequently make tall claims to provide job opportunities in the country. Even though the election date (November 20) is drawing closer, thousands of youths are migrating from Nepal, seeking foreign employment. The leaders, meanwhile, have no time to address what’s forcing the people to migrate and whether they could have found the right employment opportunities right here, said labour migration specialist, Ganesh Gurung.
"During the election campaign, political parties are more ritualistic in explaining their policies and agenda," Gurung told the Post. "While parties have emphasised on giving a free ticket to those going for overseas jobs, they lack a coherent policy."
Last week when Deuba was addressing a mass gathering in his constituency in Dadeldhura, he spent more time criticising the Oli-led administration. His election campaign merely touches upon some policy issues and that his party would deliver on them, if it won the elections.
“After the Oli-led government dissolved the parliament twice, we were forced to build the incumbent ruling alliance to topple his government, and the alliance will form the next government as well," Deuba stated during his Dadeldhura's election campaign on November 5. While criticising Oli, Deuba said that Oli's visit to Darchula will not bring back Nepal's encroached territory.
On November 4, while in Darchula, Oli accused the ruling alliance of having 'no policy' in their manifestos. He spent more time attacking the alliance than discussing his own policies.
While addressing an election campaign in Dhangadhi on November 6, Prime Minister Deuba accused the CPN-UML chair Oli and the government led by him. Deuba reiterated the dissolution of parliament as the reason for his becoming the prime minister.
“There is no provision in the constitution where the prime minister can dissolve Parliament,” said Deuba. “All the parties who were against such a move by Oli, united to form the government under the leadership of the Congress.”
"The coalition has no policies, no direction and no destination,” said Oli while addressing another rally in Baitadi adding, "The coalition is attempting to loot the country."
While he criticised the ruling coalition, which is contesting the election by forming an alliance, Oli could not give any convincing grounds as to how he would change the country through his party's policies and programmes. “When Dahal was unable to loot the country during my premiership, he joined Deuba to form the government under Congress’ leadership,” said Oli, accusing Dahal while addressing an election rally in Kanchanpur on November 4, before leaving for Darchula.
Similarly, while addressing the election campaign of Baglung on November 7, Oli branded Prime Minister Deuba a liar. “Prime Minister Deuba has lied to the people, saying that his government has found a diplomatic channel to dissolve the border issue. The incumbent ruling alliance does not have the capacity to hold a diplomatic dialogue with India.”
Oli has planned to address some 40 mass gatherings during his current election campaign. It is presumed that his election campaigns will target the ruling alliance.
Blame game is not a new technique in Nepali politics. Political analysts also believe that the politicians often want to cover up their wrongdoings while highlighting the flaws of the opponents.
"We've been witnessing blame-game politics in the country for a long time," political scientist Bhaskar Gautam told the Post. "Blaming each other has become more of an electoral norm for our political parties rather than discussing policy issues."
While criticising the Oli-led administration, the ruling coalition has laid emphasis on his attempts to dissolve the parliament, twice. Corruption in the procurement of wide-body planes and the failure to successfully control the Covid-19 outbreak are some of the key issues in the ruling alliance's election campaign.
While listening to the parties in election campaigns, it has become clear that the political parties have fallen short on their own policies, say political analysts. There are numerous challenges in society that must be addressed, and these need policy formulations.
The analysts said they were disappointed to see that the leaders often level allegations against each other rather than debating on policy issues.
"It's evident that our political parties lack a clear vision on policy matters," political analyst Mina Poudel told the Post. "Because political parties have no objective and clear agenda, they engage in blame games."