ILAM, Oct 10: Instead of encouraging newcomers, most of the political parties have once again prioritized old faces in ticket distribution for the upcoming parliamentary and provincial assembly elections, and this has raised fears that public enthusiasm for the polls could be slightly dampened.
As the parties cite experience and 'the elections game' to justify their selection of old and established faces for contesting the parliamentary and provincial elections, youth leaders and new aspirants now feel they will have to wait a few more years for their turn.
Although the parties did promote youth engagement in the recently concluded local elections, it now seems their central committees are yet to feel confidence in youth leaders. The parliamentary and provincial assembly polls are to be held in tandem in two phases - on November 26 and December 7.
Given this confidence deficit, some older candidates who lost in the local polls have been nominated again for the upcoming elections. Although a few small parties in Ilam district have spoken of the possibility of fielding new faces, the district chapter of the big three parties - Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) - show signs they will be giving tickets mostly to old faces.
In terms of the local polls outcome, UML is the biggest party in the district, followed by NC and CPN (Maoist Center). UML has already recommended former prime minister Jhala Nath Khanal to vie in the parliamentary election. Khanal, who is a member of parliament from Ilam constituency number 1, has won consistently from the district.
Likewise, former speaker and lawmaker from Ilam constituency number 2 Subash Chandra Nembang has also been given a ticket for the upcoming elections. Nembang has already won three elections from the constituency.
UML district chairman Ram Rana has defended the choosing of known faces. “Khanal and Nembang are not only influential politicians in the district but also have the potential to bring about important reforms in the country. That is why they have been recommended for the tickets,” he said.
The main opposition party has also recommended old faces for parliamentary elections under the proportional representation (PR) category. UML candidate for the PR category Mani Kumar Limbu had won the legislative election of 1991 from constituency number 2, defeating NC's Kul Bahadur Gurung . Limbu ran again in 1994 from the same constituency, but was defeated by Gurung.
Likewise, UML's Padam Bhandari, who was defeated in 1994 by NCs Benup Raj Prasai, is now running under the PR category.
The situation is the same in the ruling NC. Many of the candidates recommended for the upcoming elections are old faces. Incumbent member of parliament Keshav Thapa, former members Benup Raj Prasai and Nirmala Prasai, also-ran Bhesh Raj Acharya and previous also-ran Kul Bahadur Gurung have been recommended as candidates..
Commenting on the matter, NC District President Himalaya Karmacharya said, “We cannot base our selections simply on who has already run previously and who is new. We recommend those who have good prospects of wining,” he said. “Voter preference is for established leaders, and that is what we have based our recommendations on.”
Similarly, Dhiren Sharma (Raman), Kancha Lawati, Ram Rai and Prem Tsering are old faces vying in the upcoming elections from the CPN (Maoist Center).