As the campaign for the two phases of federal and provincial elections hits the peak, election candidates are once again promising lofty hopes of roads, schools and health posts everywhere. These tall promises are especially common from the candidates for the federal parliament. In our view, such promises to voters are disingenuous on their part because they don’t seem to realize the fact that their role and responsibilities in the federal parliament is to basically formulate laws and policies to drive the country forward, not building roads in their electoral constituencies. The federal structure we have in place has clearly delineated the responsibilities of local, provincial and the federal governments. We will now have members of provincial assembly and the provincial governments to support development efforts of the local people. Besides, we have elected local governments to take care of local development issues. We no longer subscribe to the unitary system where the parliamentarians were provided 30 million rupees as constituent development fund. This will hopefully be abolished under the new federal parliament as we already have two layers of government overseeing local development efforts—local and provincial.
Reports coming from all across the country talk of candidates focusing on economy and the need for economic leapfrog. While it is a welcome departure from traditional campaign rhetoric of ‘development,’ the candidates will have to make an earnest effort to tell their voters the roles and responsibilities of federal lawmakers. In that way the voters don’t have to go through post-election blues. The 275-member of the new federal parliament will have to show utmost discipline and resolve to represent people’s true aspiration. The new federal parliament will be drafting a whole host of bills to properly define activities of different levels of government. Whenever there is confusion over the works of agencies, our continued practice and experience will sharpen the system. We are currently seeing a lot of overlaps and chaos between the district-level agencies and the village council and municipalities. The handover of responsibilities to the local level will take a while to have its full impact on the ground.
The candidates contesting for the federal parliament should educate the voters on their upcoming responsibilities as lawmakers. They should refrain from making promises that they cannot keep. To give otherwise impression to the voters would not be fair. This is the right time to make people understand the working mechanism of the federal structure. This election should be the opportune moment for our future lawmakers to finally wake up to their true role of serving the people in the most powerful people-elected body, not just mere builders of ‘roads and bridges’ in their election district. It is dispiriting that election candidates still resort to promises of road and bridges. Of course, once elected they must work to facilitate development process of their respective constituencies. But promising voters of things they cannot help does not only amount to lying but will also dent their own image in the eyes of the voters when they fail to keep those promises.