It is too early to pin big expectations on new faces. But a point to rejoice is that some new faces have been able to challenge the established order of big political parties.
Two female candidates from Kathmandu valley, Sobita Gautam and Dr Toshima Karki of Rashtriya Swatantra Party, are the case in point.
Karki secured 31,136 votes from Lalitpur-3, while Sobita Gautam garnered 15,229 votes from Kathmandu-2.
Victory of both Gautam and Karki, completely new faces in the mainstream politics of Nepal, has sent a positive message to the voters and general public alike.
Possible reasons of victory
Both Gautam and Karki have defeated heavyweights of established political parties in Kathmandu valley. Their campaign was sober. They did not resort to blame-game–the tactic the political leaders often use to impress on voters why they must be voted. Their election campaign was comparatively frugal, with no pumps and shows. But they were able to win the hearts and minds of those who mattered most for them–the voters.
Evidently, the first among the reasons for their victory is people were frustrated with the established order. People, in a sense, were depressed with the ongoing corruption scandals and bad governance sustained, and to some extent also promoted, by the established political parties.
They expressed their dissatisfaction through their votes.
This win has sparked a new found interest in youths towards Nepali politics. While youths were thought of as being passive and disinterested in politics, now, they believe that their voices can also be heard and they can make a difference in politics, while also sending a message loud and clear that Nepalis are now ready for a change. And for the change, they trust more in new and energetic leaders than leaders from established parties who have failed to translate agendas of change into reality.
Voters who are in favor of change trusted Gautam and Karki as a potential agent of change.
Further, many female voters also see them as potential custodians of equality and justice. It was another reason for their rise.
It is just a beginning
Expectations run high. Every voter wants change. They want a system that delivers good governance, justice and equality. People want to see a change in the way parliament deliberates issues. They want the country to become corruption-free. People want the country to respect meritocracy.
In this backdrop, the victory of Gautam, Karki and the likes is just a beginning. They have a long way to go to translate people’s hopes into action.
Our past experience with politicians has been bitter, far removed from our expectations. Politicians often make lofty promises during election time. They promise good governance, justice and equality for women and all. But these promises are simply forgotten once they reach parliament or the government.
Gautam and Karki are just a representative case. If they fail to live up to people’s expectations, hope will change into pessimism, excitement into frustration. This will be the case not only among the voters but also the entire new generation who look up to them.
Opportunity for reforms
As new and emerging faces in the parliament, Gautam and Karki will have the opportunity to raise people’s concerns, especially those who are voiceless. This time, it will be easier for them to speak for the people as they do not have heavy baggage of established political parties eroded by cronyism.
Thus, they should not shy away from advocating for justice. I personally want them to champion social justice and rights. A transparency in the parliament and the government is necessary to revive the lost hope and trust of people in Nepali politics. I hope that they can create an environment where change is not a mere rhetoric but something that is attainable in our own lifetime.