From left: Mayoral candidates, Damodar Acharya from CPN (Maoist Center); Dr Suresh Kumar Kanodiya from NC; Dhawal Shamsher Rana from RPP; Samshuddin Siddiqui from CPN-UML for Nepalgunj Sub-metropolitan City/ Kalendra Sejuwal/ Republica
NEPALGUNJ, June 12: A CPN-UML party leader alleged that political parties deprive deserving candidates of ticket by awarding it to rich candidates who offer donations to party and can spend lavishly in the election. The leader, who requested anonymity, claimed that he was denied party ticket for Nepalgunj Sub-metropolitan City because of his weak financial strength.
“If you want party ticket, you have to be either a contractor, or businessman or somebody very rich. I now realize that people like us are into politics for nothing. Our time, energy, integrity does not count. Until and unless we are wealthy, we never get chance even if we deserve it,” he claimed.
In an attempt to prove his claim, he pointed to the financial status of the four mayoral candidates of the contending parties. Contenders from CPN-UML, Nepali Congress, Maoists-Center and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) are influential financially.
Local intellectual circle observe that the unspoken standard to get the party’s ticket is indeed having strong financial status. They state that parties go for rich candidates because such candidates can spend enough for the election campaign and therefore can ensure better chances of winning.
Dr Suresh Kumar Kanodiya is mayoral candidate for Nepaligunj sub metropolis from Nepali Congress. Kanodiya, who is into the medical field for the past 34 years, owns the Nepalgunj Medical College. His financial status needs no further elaboration.
Kanodiya has good relation with both the top class leaders and local public as well. That makes him ‘the right candidate’ for the poll, he claims.
“What I have earned is not black money. I have never done wrong for earning what I have. I worked hard to earn it,” says Kanodiya.
“I have been working hard for the last 34 years. I am providing service to people; my party must have evaluated all these. Now, it is the turn of the public to evaluate my role,” he added. The medical college was established in 1998. So far, it has produced 1700 medical doctors including 200 from the Banke district alone.
Damodar Acharya, mayoral candidate from the Maoists-Center is also considered a member of the affluent circle. Since the last two decades, his financial graph has only soared up.
As owner of the Acharya Imperial College in Nepalgunj he did not have to struggle much to get the party’s ticket for the mayoral post.
Some disgruntled local leaders claimed that the party provided Acharya with the ticket considering his capability to invest in the election campaign and clinch the mayoral post. Acharya however denies this.
He argues that the party trusts him because his ability to deliver the promises made to the public has been tested over and over through the years.
“More than your financial status, it is your dedication towards the party, your discipline, and integrity that counts,” Acharya said adding that his election budget would adhere to the ceiling fixed by the Election Commission. RPP’s mayoral candidate, Dhawal Shamsher Rana, is a renowned businessman of the town and has already served as mayor of the sub-metro in the past.
He is the owner of Hotel Batika that receives affluent guests and tourists. He has investment in several private schools. His ancestral mango garden in Sitapur is equally famous in the locality. “I do have property. But I am not going to sell it for the election,” said Rana. “I do not think votes can be purchased. Voters vote for the candidate of their choice and money cannot make you someone’s choice,” he stated.
Rana went even further and claimed that his supporters have been contributing funds for the election campaign. “I have been managing funds for the election by requesting donations from friends.”
Businessperson Samshuddin Siddiqui, mayoral candidate from CPN-UML, has equally strong economic base. His close relatives state that his transactions extend across the border. However, Siddiqui pitches himself as a middle class man.
“I am not a rich man. Actually, you may label me as a member of a middle class family. I don’t have a big budget for the election campaign. I am going to spend whatever I can manage with the support from friends and family.”
Senior journalist Hemanta Karmacharya, who has been closely observing the politics of Nepalgunj state that financial status of the candidate can indeed influence election results.