When Prachanda’s channel ABC kept referring to the “dhandali” in this elections, including the fact the political representatives of various parties were not allowed to accompany the ballot boxes to the locations where they were stored, I suggested that this in fact may not be a fiction of the losing party’s imagination, but a concrete reality. It appeared strange to me none of the RPP factions, none of the ethnic parties, none of the Madhesh parties won in any significant way in this election, especially in light of the disillusionment the majority of the people felt with the big parties. The Maoists’s loss was understandable—but what about all the others?
A relative of mine got very irritated with me at this point, and said that sleigh-of-hand of any kind was impossible. It was an internationally observed elections, he said. The Army accompanied the ballot boxes to the counting stations. Any deception was simply impossible.
I asked if representatives of the political parties accompanied the ballot boxes into the trucks. He said that political parties representatives do go along on those trucks, and that the rooms are sealed overnight. “Its not that difficult to put five people to sleep, and have some storage in the floor of the truck with substitute ballot boxes,” I joked. “Don’t talk about these magic tricks to people outside, they will think you are totally nuts,” my abovementioned relative warned me.
Of course, it appeared now that there was really no need for magic tricks. The ballot boxes were apparently in the trucks without any political party representatives to oversee them, and also left unattended overnight. Plenty of time for some sleigh of hand without needing to build elaborate, fake, ballot box holding storage in the floor of the trucks.
Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani also alleged fraud. According to this Kantipur report (http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2013/11/24/top-story/more-parties-claim-polls-were-unfair/256132.html), this is what he said:
“Our agents were not allowed to travel in vehicles that carried the ballot boxes,” senior Rastriya Prajatantra Party leader Prakash Chandra Lohani told the Post. In an opinion article in Kantipur Daily on Sunday, Lohani said the ballot boxes from his constituency were allowed to be kept under the Army without the presence of the party’s agents.
The article also mentions that Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav made similar claims.
It appears, from reading various news reports from various parts of the country, that there might have been a concentrated effort to “help” the two major parties win through an overwhelming majority.
Of course, the election process is intrinsically susceptible to fraud. Anybody who thinks voting reflects the will of the majority is fooling themselves. Primarily because there is no “majority” who thinks with such bloc mentality—in reality, people’s loyalties are probably more fractured, and if a true accounting were to be held, it would probably show a lot more minority opinions than this elections has made room for.
For the majority of the people who did not vote (two-third of the Nepali population did not vote because they are not eligible for various reasons, or because they haven’t yet received the proper documents), the elections is a spectacle to be watched with cynicism and a sort of weary wisdom. “This is just a way for politicians to make money. Once the donors leave, these priorities will change, and all these issues will lose prominence,” one young man told me.
The donors, however, are not leaving anytime soon. So until and unless some strong-willed Nepali leader shows up, willing to clean up the mess and impose a genuine leadership which benefits the people, it looks like the status quo is unlikely to change anytime soon.