Becoming young or independent isn’t enough to woo voters. Here’s what such candidates need to focus on for local elections

Photo: Pixabay

On Friday, former Miss Newa Sunita Dangol, who has also been the face of Nepal Bhasa campaigns in Kathmandu in recent years, announced to run for the capital city’s mayor in the upcoming local elections scheduled for May 13. It means one after another new and young face is announcing the candidacy for the elections. From rapper Balen Shah in Kathmandu to nurse Neetu Khadka in Baglung, the excitement seen among the youth is interesting. 

In common, all these young faces say they want to replace the old leadership style and create a new avenue for the development of their place. Similarly, by reaching the position of changemakers, they say they want to focus on local needs, resources and others. 

It looks quite natural that such young and independent candidates get sympathy from the young people in general as they are frustrated with the old leaders. But, is it enough to be just new and young to run for the mayor and spark hopes? Shouldn’t they have proper plans and agendas? How would they convince the voters? These are some of the major questions that a section of society is asking them. 

Onlinekhabar talked to some observers and a former candidate with similar backgrounds to discuss why the young and independent candidates are vying in the local elections, what their strategy and agenda should be, and how they should convince the voters. 

Tall dreams don’t sell

File: Election Commission
File: Election Commission

Observers say that young candidates–whether independent or partisan ones–announcing their desire to run for key positions during the local elections can be considered a good sign, but that is not enough.  

“The incompetence of senior and old leaders is pushing the young ones to run,” says Jagat Nepal, an author and political analyst. “They are frustrated with the existing leaders who are holding the change-making position.”

But, Nepal also maintains not every young and independent candidate of the local elections may be wanting to develop their place; some of them may even be there to just earn money instead of serving society loyally. 

He suggests those new candidates need to focus on small things instead of showing lofty dreams to the voters. 

“The agenda of these candidates should be viable, practical and logical. It will be hard to convince and gain trust from the public if the candidates focus on big projects like building monorails, flyovers and others just as the failed old leaders,” he adds.

 Another political analyst Uddhab Pyakurel says that the youth and independent candidates should come up with alternative plans and agendas for the local elections.  

“Their agenda should be sustainable and ecologically friendly,” says Pyakurel.  “They should also focus on utilising and saving local resources and old heritage.” 

Go the grassroots 

Photo: Pixabay

Bhushan Kumar Shrestha, who was one of the youngest candidates to vie in the 2017 local elections of a mayoral position in his Kavre district, also advises the young and independent candidates to focus on the issue of grassroots. 

“The candidates should focus on real problems. They should put the issues of health, education and transportation in the priority,” says Shrestha. 

Shrestha says he has learnt that it is very important to identify the supporters who could support you wisely during the election campaign. However, Shreshta also believes that there is very less probability for the young and independent candidate to win the local elections. 

“Our voters are deeply rooted with any of the political ideology, and it is very hard to change their mindset.” 

 But, on the other hand, he believes things will definitely change someday if those candidates continue challenging the incompetent leaders. 

Inspirations matter more than victories

L-R: Ganes Paudel, Neetu Khadka and Sumit Kharel, independent mayoral candidates for Pokhara, Baglung and Budhanilakantha respectively for the local elections 2022
L-R: Ganes Paudel, Neetu Khadka and Sumit Kharel, independent mayoral candidates for Pokhara, Baglung and Budhanilakantha respectively for the local elections 2022

Like Shrestha, Nepal does not have much hope that those young and independent candidates can win not only this time but in the next few years also. 

“Almost all people in society are associated with political parties and have been taking benefits from them, so it is tough to change their thoughts,” says Nepal. “And even if those young and independent candidates win, it will be hard for them to work because almost all the bureaucrats are inclined towards political parties.” 

But, he does not mean they should lose hope, rather they should keep trying. He asks those candidates to take inspiration from India’s Aam Aadmi Party, which recently won the legislative elections in Punjab despite being relatively new in politics. 

Pyakurel also echoes Nepal regarding the chances of an independent candidate winning the upcoming local elections but again says the independent candidates need to strengthen their agenda. 

“Your agenda is the most important thing in the election. If the agenda can connect the candidates with the people, there are some chances of winning the elections,” says Pyakurel.  “The candidates do not need to spend money in the elections if their agenda has an ability to  meet the public desires.”

Candidates need money only when they fail to convince the public with their agenda, he adds.  

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Prasun Sangroula is an Onlinekhabar correspondent, mainly covering arts, society and sports.

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