Nepalese political leadership is incompetent to hold local polls since 2054 due to various reasons to political turmoil and instable government. As long as political changes and power center substitution one after another held in past 2 decades, local poll election hardly reside under the major priority of government. Nearly after second people’s revolution, constitution draft through election became major priority of all the political parties and leaders. Despite the fact country has hosted second CA election after the failure of first CA, but the emphasis has not been changed in order to host local poll. One of the reasons hereby development is yet not treated as need of the country today by the ruling elites. The prospects of a great sense of local ownership and self government could be seen in the nooks and corners of the country in case of holding CA poll. Holding of local poll has been greatly dealt by major political parties in their second CA election manifesto as they perceive it as populist measure to attract vote. Political parties assuring through public commitment and agenda covered in manifest declared orally to organize local poll promptly after the six month of second CA.
Why local poll is needed?
People in the nooks and corner of nation are deprived of basic government support for livelihood. The assurance and reliance for the presence of state is hardly realized due to long interval of nation to host election. Though, people are helped by the government’s decision to introduce a new plan of direct budgetary support to VDCs. It provided Rs 300,000 to each VDC through the budget. It has not been distributed and allocated according to priority zone in the absence of local governing mechanism for past 2 decades. Adding to woes, 40 percent of VDCs are currently without even secretaries because of the inability to recruit new ones. As such, one VDC secretary has to look after two to three VDCs. It does not require much insight to reach a conclusion regarding the quality of services and the state of good governance in these bodies in the given context. People are facing very miserable condition while rushing for document registration, Paper work, development works and even for receiving social security allowances and others. In fact, long interval of periodic election has created hindrances for local government service delivery and development. Meanwhile, Quality of service delivery and equal distribution of resources have been myth to those far-fung nooks and corners.
As a consequence, local poll has been figured as necessity to organize local governance to strengthen democracy and to mobilize national and local strength development.
What we did?
Tanneri Chaso promptly after the second CA election was vigilantly watching over the accountability issues of the manifesto of the political parties in which, they had pledged for periodic election within six months. In this regard, the network had taken an initiative for perceiving the nationwide scenario for local election and undertaking the verdicts of public for the necessity of election, organized a campaign. With the motive of insisting public towards urging the accountability of the political parties as they had promised earlier, Youths representing Tanneri network approached to various twenty-one districts of Nepal. Campaign started from June 2014 had various phases ended up in July 2014. A group of campaigners with their designed message and tools visited 21 districts including Gulmi, Palpa, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Kapilbastu, Chitwan, Parsa, Makwanpur and Kathmandu in the first phase of campaign. In the very next phase, districts of far western region; Banke, Bardia, Srukhet, Kanchanpur and Kailali were selected as place for campaign. Meanwhile, youth forums set up at local levels with the coordination with Tanneri Chaso had organized campaigns deliberately in the other Districts like Dolakha, Ramechap, Sindhuli, Sunsari, Panchthar, Morang, Illam.
- Understanding nation-wide whim for the need of local poll and acknowledge the problem people are facing due to absence of local governing body.
- Preliminary Research of the public opinion about of the need local election in which tools like questionnaires, group discussion, observation are to be used.
- Strengthening public voice for local polls as soon as possible to ensure that the people get to elect their representatives and enjoy the fruits of local development.
- Our leadership has not given thought to the absence of elected local bodies. Our motive is to bring authority to the agenda local poll.
- Ascertain people’s foremost priority whether primarily for constitution or development.
- Insisting local people especially youths to transform the public grievances about the leadership and system into question and question into watchfulness.
- Providing insights to public about the cause of development barrier in Nepal through the use of tools like publications, image theatre, public debate, folk media and literatures. And comprehend the willingness of local people leaders for local election.
- Organize public debates on local governance and host discourse for immediate need for local poll.
First Phase of Campaign: The first phase was accomplished with 17 campaigners of Tanneri Chaso visiting different districts from 4th June to 10th June, 2014 with message of local election. Reminding public commitment of the political parties to host local election after the next six month of second CA, we interacted with people by visiting 5 districts of western region comprising Gulmi, Palpa, Rupandehi, Kapilvastu and Nawalparasi. Local people were invited into different segment of campaigns insisted to participate interactively into our outdoor and indoor programs. First of all, we had organized indoor program mainly with students and youths at Balmandir of Tamghas, District Red Cross hall at Palpa, Likewise Taulihawa multiple campus at Kapilbastu and SPM college at Gaidakot of Nawalparasi.
Further, team members as assigned to various roles had prepared campaign banner, popular slogans, folk songs, public debates, image theatre, and literature to demonstrate in front of the participants with intent of imparting consciousness for political accountability. Tools were used as means of persuasion, counseling and informing heterogeneous local publics towards political and social consciousness and way out to learn to question the misconducts and misdeeds prevailed in the national and local politics. The campaigner had set to conduct a public research on possibility of local election on the committed deadline by political parties. For the purpose, various tools were used including direct observation of the interest of local people; questionnaires were designed to perceive fundamental problem caused by absence of local government, opinion about possibility of constitution drafting on deadline and hosting of local poll on the stipulated time, and current opinion about the image of the political parties.
Meanwhile, Outdoor program organized at public places of those districts had sufficient participation of local people. Along with providing message through public announcement, demonstration of image theatre which had theme of problem issued by absence of local governance, provoked people to have their say and engage into the interaction. Use of clown at the campaign admit entertaining vibes and incorporated it to collect public through fascination of acts at the program. Campaigner of Tanneri had arranged such type of public programs one after another at Lakuri Chaur of Tamghas, Gumli; Tundikhel of Tansen, Palpa;Buddha chowk of Vhairahawa, Rupandehi; Siddhartha Chowk of Taulihawa, Kapilvastu and Kawaswoti of Nawalparasi district. Crowd of people spontaneously gathered at our public programs later responded us with their consent for need of immediate periodic election. Finally at the end, youths and local civilians expressed their consent and views through making signature on the campaign banner which we had managed single for each places. We found excitement of the people eager to express their opinion to our audio/ visual recording since all the campaign activities were captured, recorded and reported. Meta cards were eventually distributed for public feedback in which, we found most people responding to the campaigns we conducted, complaining about the problems of local governance and commenting upon the accountability and transparency of the politicians.
Methods used at campaigns:
- Interaction and discussion with local people and youths
- Image theatre as theatrical method of communication
- Public Debate
- Campaign banners and flyers
- Composition of campaign team members
- local songs, literatures ( Poems and gajals) as integrated to folk media
- Use of Clown for entertainment
- Survey research : Questionnaires, observation and use of meta card
- Distribution of Broachers, books
- Video recording and photography of whole events
Participants: Arjun Dahal, Shiva Nath Yadhav, Nabin Silwal, Pushkar Khanal, Deep Jyoti Shrestha, Khagendra Puri (left in the middle), Ganesh Budathoki, Sangita Kunwar, Rupesh Karna, Ramesh Shretha, Shrijan Bhattarai, kailash Neupane, Nabin Pokharel, Chet Narayan Rasaili, Kiran Subedi, Devi pandey, Radha Dhakal, (left in middle), Parwati Neupane ( start from Butuwal), Sweta Bhattarai (start from Bhairahawa).
Second Phase of campaign:
Local Poll Survey Report: Tanneri Chaso had organized a month long interaction program with locals in the different 25 districts in July 2014 on the issues of vacuum of representation at local bodies and other current political environment. A survey was conducted with the participants at interaction program focusing on the local bodies’ election and ongoing constitution drafting process. A set of questionnaire was prepared and distributed to the participants. Total 5 questions were prepared and asked to choose single option out of 3 multiple sets.
Though the program was confined in only 25 districts however about one thousand two hundred and seventy three locals were participated from aggregate 49 districts. People from Illam and Jhapa in the east to Kailali and kanchanpur from the west – likewise, locals from Northern districts; Dolkha and Solukhumbu to Rupandehi, Parsa in the south had expressed their verdict through survey poll. To a large extent, youths studying at local campuses were included into the interaction cum survey and common locals were privileged during outdoor session of survey. Youths had expressed their critical stances on political juncture through verbal and written medium.
On the basis of the result of the survey poll, Out of 1250 respondents, 582 had expressed their verdict as there is no possibility of constitution draft on stipulated time. Meanwhile, only 277 were convinced about the draft of constitution. In another question about the problem facing by public due to long interval of local bodies election, 914 participants were found to have problem on their day to day life but only 244 had responded for not having any problem. In another question of whether constitution drafting and local poll can be simultaneously carried out or not, about 605 respondents replied as ‘yes’ and other 433 had replied as ‘no’. The major question of whether if the local poll was possible for November 2014 had recorded the reposes of 433 as yes, 528 as no and 294 as can’t say exactly. Upon the last question majority of 882 believed that the attitude of the political parties haven’t been changed yet however not a single believed to change attitude of political parties.
Outcome: Tanneri Chaso as youths’ initiative had sparkle nationwide public discourse on long awaited periodic election. Eventually, two distinct types of voices were accounted during our observation; one stands for local election prior to the constitution drafting process due to long interval and obstacles on local governance and development. Whereas, another stands for constitution drafting process prior to local poll letting it to determine the reconstruction of the state, federalism and electoral system. The debate at local level on the discourses helped us to determine which one of those agendas was major priority for people. Both side of view points, pros and cons of the first priority to whichever the agenda was measured through feedbacks, questionnaire responses and observations. According to the field report, majority of the public voices displayed their expectation and interest for long awaited periodic election because it has been directly concerned to their day to day problem on service delivery, access to statecraft and development. They demanded for periodic election before draft of constitution. To the contrary, almost other voices gave prime emphasis to constitution yet some discarded the possibility of constitution draft by newly elected lawmakers because they believed bankrupt and irresponsible politicians wouldn’t make it happen.
Throughout the campaign, Tanneri Chaso had an attempt to figure out youths and public concern to politics. We found fair number of youths have had better consciousness and somehow understanding of mainstream politics. While they were whining and expressing grievances about the political miss conducts and disorder, Youths of Tanneri persuade them to convert their complains into questions for accountability and transparency in deliberate manner. Apart this, Pre designed tools for campaigns had been highly supportive for the network to identify the local problems, target public and deliver the strong desired message. Display and demonstration of the tools and methods during the campaigns have been accepted and appreciated very well by the public.