ITAHARI, Dec 3: Rather than banking on past performance and the development hopes of voters, candidates in the parliamentary and provincial elections in Sunsari district are to offers of alcoholic drink, meat treats and money to woo the voters.
Early on Saturday morning, a group of people was deep in conversation in Koshi Rural Municipality-8 near the Nepal-India border. When the topic turned to the elections slated for December 7, Biku Sarda, one of the participants, said various candidates had offered him alcoholic drinks, meat treats and cash in return for his vote.
“While the male voters in a family get alcohol, the candidates offer the females chicken to eat. This tactic is common among candidates,” he said. “In the recent local elections, candidates offering alcohol, meat and money to the maximum number of voters won. It won't be any different this time,” said Sarda.
According to him, the entire panel of the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) won in Koshi Rural Municipality ward-8 because the candidates including Bindeshwar Yadav reached out to the maximum number of voters with the offers of money, meat and booze.
“Candidates of the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML also offered alcohol and meat. But Yadav's panel won because they were able to reach out to the maximum number of voters,” Sarda added.
It is the poor and underprivileged that the political parties have been exploiting in this fashion. According to locals, they offer half a kilo of chicken to a family of up to five members and one kilo to families with more than five members.
Most of the locals in the poor and backward communities easily give in to such inducements. They have scant understanding of the importance of elections and choosing the right representatives.
Koshi Rural Municipality-8 is a glaring example of how candidates exploit naive voters. Locals said many of the candidates are yet to pay them a visit. Yet, voters nurse big expectations of financial gain from them.
“Had the candidates come to us, we would have raked in Rs 200-300 per day. But they are mostly busy in corner meetings these days,” said Punidevi Rishidev, a local. Most of the locals are still looking forward to door-to-door campaigning by the candidates who only use them as a vote bank.
There are also local voters who have greater awareness and take the elections seriously. They look at ideological leanings of the candidates and election agendas before casting their vote.
“I have not yet decided who would be the most suitable candidate for us. What saddens me is most voters here vote for whoever gives them money,” said Tapeshwar Sah of Koshi Rural Municipality-3.
Sah said he was also offered money in the local elections but declined the offer.