Top leaders of major political parties are under fire by their cadres for failing to maintain transparency in the allocation of proportional representation (PR) seats for provincial assemblies. Top leaders have sought to ensure representation of someone close to them in the seats which are meant for women, Dalits, Janajatis, Madhesis and the members of marginalized communities. They are trying to tweak the system in a way that ensures their families’ representation both at provincial and federal levels. This violates the spirit of democracy and transparency within parties. Most importantly, this is against the promise the political leaders made for transparency, honesty and clean governance during the campaign trails. It is unfortunate that even before new members of the parliament have been sworn in the parties have resorted to same pattern of nepotism, favoritism and corruption in allocating PR seats. Once again, the sons, daughters, daughter-in-laws and wives of the top leaders are being favored at the expense of people on the closed-list submitted by the parties before the election.
The Election Commission has said that some of the parties have failed to adhere to order list submitted before the polls and has asked them to rectify the error. But election body must do more. It must call all of 13 parties which qualify for PR seats at the provincial levels to strongly abide by the rule and ask them to correct the mistakes. On their part, political parties must rise above their petty interests and use PR system for what it is meant for: proper representation of the underrepresented. Intra-party rift and dissatisfaction over the PR seats will also have long-term impact, especially for those running the new federal and provincial governments. If parties cannot sort out the differences, they may not be able to unite the party force to implement agendas put forth by incoming federal and provincial governments of their own. People have huge expectations from the next government. The new government will have to deliver what was promised during the election campaign.
The whole idea of PR seats in our parliament was meant to include the underrepresented and the voiceless to the highest lawmaking body so that everyone could feel they are part of the process. However, the political parties have often auctioned off PR seats to the highest bidders. Influential business people and family connections are preferred while allocating PR seats. Because the top leaders made the PR system a vehicle to promote their near and dear ones, question has been raised about whether we need to continue with such system at all. This collusion of parties and business people not only weakens our young democracy, it also erodes people’s faith in the system. We urge the political parties to keep their promise of transparency and good conduct. People will take note of parties’ activities for the next five years and will make their choice accordingly. Let PR seats go to those who need to be represented. People are watching.