See More on Facebook


New parties face drubbing in by-elections as Nepalis continue to vote along party lines

“They failed to convince the voters as to what they would bring to the table if they were given a chance”.

Written by

Updated: December 2, 2019

Nepalis once again displayed traditional voting patterns as they continued to choose the established parties—Nepal Communist Party and the Nepali Congress—while casting their ballots in Saturday’s by-election, as they snubbed newer parties like Sajha and Bibeksheel.

Despite their untiring efforts, focussing primarily on Kaski Constituency-2 in a bid to get a seat in the federal Parliament, both Sajha and Bibeksheel, cut no ice with voters. Both parties have had to fight hard to even secure their deposits, as candidates must garner at least 10 percent of the total votes cast to get back their deposit; a failure to do so is considered humiliating.

By-elections were held on Saturday for 52 positions, including a vacant seat in the House of Representatives, three provincial assembly seats, one mayor, three rural municipality chairpersons, one rural municipality vice-chair, and 43 ward chairs.

As results filtered in, with the ruling Nepal Communist Party clearly leading and the Nepali Congress trailing, analysts pointed at a number of factors for the poor show of the new forces.

Rajendra Maharjan, a political commentator, said that parties like Bibeksheel and Sajha had nothing new to offer and that they continued to stick to their old refrain that the country needs a change.

“The only thing that’s new about them is their names,” Maharjan told the Post. “They failed to convince the voters as to what they would bring to the table if they were given a chance.”

Sajha Party is led by Rabindra Mishra, a former BBC journalist, while Bibeksheel Party is headed by Ujwal Thapa, who made his foray into politics after identifying for long as a social campaigner.

Both parties had contested the 2017 local elections separately, but buoyed by the votes they had gathered in Kathmandu and Lalitpur, they decided to contest general elections together and merged. However, their merger did not last long as they decided to split on January 11 after 17 months.

Analysts say the two parties were upbeat about garnering some votes in Kathmandu and Lalitpur but that they would largely have been unable to expand beyond the urban centres.

Their presence is largely on social media and elections are decided in ballots, not in virtual space, said CK Lal, a political analyst who is also a columnist for the Post.

“Whatever votes the Sajha Party has been able to garner in Kaski is because of its presence on social media,” said Lal. “These days, voters take decisions through hard-headed calculations.”

Both Sajha and Bibeksheel have often faced censure for constantly criticising the traditional parties and their leaders, blaming them for all the ills in the country. They, however, have failed to come up with a clear strategy of their own to clean up the mess.

The results show that Nepali voters are still not ready for an alternative to traditional forces, according to Jhalak Subedi, a political observer who has followed Nepal’s leftist politics for decades.

“The fundamental problem with these new parties is they have failed to build an organisational base,” said Subedi.

According to Subedi, unless the parties have a strong organisational base right down to the grassroots level, people will refuse to recognise them.

“Voters alone cannot be blamed,” said Subedi. “In the case of Sajha and Bibeksheel, they function more like social organisations than political outfits and their leaders are more like campaigners and social workers.”

When it comes to the Communist party and Congress, they have their own history and can always cash in on the sacrifices their leaders have made in the past for democracy. Hence, they have political capital, which pays off during election time, say commentators.

“Why would a voter waste their vote,” said Lal. “There should be three major reasons for voters to vote for a party—past performance and track record; personal or national prospects, and future prospects. The new parties have none of these.”


Enjoyed this story? Share it.

The Kathmandu Post
About the Author: The Kathmandu Post was Nepal’s first privately owned English broadsheet daily and is currently the country's leading English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here


Wuhan virus: 3rd death reported in China as cases soar past 200; new cases confirmed in Beijing, Shenzhen

There has been a dramatic increase of 136 cases of the mysterious Sars-like virus, including one death, in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Monday (Jan 20) as new cases were confirmed for the first time outside the city in Beijing and Shenzhen. The Chinese city of Wuhan on Monday (Jan 20) reported a dramatic increase of 136 cases of the mysterious Sars-like virus, including one death, as new cases were confirmed for the first time outside the city in Beijing and Shenzhen. The sharp spike in detected cases comes as travelling intensifies ahead of this weekend’s Chinese New Year holidays, sparking fears that the mass human movement co

By The Straits Times
January 20, 2020


North Korea beefs up self-defense capabilities in military reorganization

The North have been making many changes ahead of talks. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over a meeting of the top military decision-making body to accelerate the development of self-defense capabilities ahead of key events that will decide its national strategy, its state media reported Sunday. Discussions on ways to bolster its military capabilities through organizational restructuring and personnel reshuffle were highlighted during the third expanded meeting of the seventh central military commission of the ruling Workers’ Party. Details on what measures were discussed were not disclosed. “At the meeting, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un

By The Korea Herald
December 23, 2019


Modi defends citizenship decision

PM Modi says it has nothing to do with Indian Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, that unity in diversity is integral to India while addressing ‘Aabhar Rally’ at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan today to kick start Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi Assembly Elections campaign slated for early next year, amid protests in Delhi and all over the country against the contentious Citizenship Act and the National Register of Citizenship(NRC). Modi raised slogan of ‘vividhta me ekta, Bharat ki visheshta’ (Unity in diversity is India’s speciality). PM Modi while giving his party and government’s view on CAA and NRC said, “Muslims being misled, I have always ensured that documents will never come in way of development schemes and their beneficiaries.” Citizenship law and NRC have nothing to do with Indian Muslims or with Indian citizens, he clarified. “We have never asked

By The Statesman
December 23, 2019


Rallies rage on in India over citizenship law

Thousands of students flood streets of Delhi; Assam state sees five protesters shot dead. Thousands of university students flooded the streets of India’s capital yesterday, while a southern state government led a march and demonstrators held a silent protest in the north-east, to protest against a new law giving citizenship to non-Muslims who entered India illegally to flee religious persecution in several neighbouring countries. The protests in New Delhi followed a night of violent clashes between the police and demonstrators at Jamia Millia Islamia University. People who student organisers said were not students set three buses on fire and the police stormed the university library, firing tear gas at students crouched under desks. Members of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party said opposition parties were using th

By The Straits Times
December 17, 2019


Biegun arrives in Seoul amid deadlock in NK-US nuclear talks

Pyongyang says it conducted “another crucial test” at Sohae site. US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a “close coordination” with allies amid the deadlock in the denuclearization talks with Pyongyang just weeks before the communist regime’s year-end deadline. A day before, North Korea issued statements to announce that it had carried out “another crucial test” at a satellite launching site, warning the United States to “hold off” any action to “rattle” the regime. During his three-day trip here, the US special envoy is expected to meet with officials here to discuss on the

By The Korea Herald
December 16, 2019


Japan: Koizumi offers no concrete plan on coal

The new environment minister needs to offer better ways to tackle climate change.  During a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday, Shinjiro Koizumi, the Environment Minister did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation, for which construction of new plants is currently underway in Japan, during a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday. “I am afraid I cannot share new development on our coal policy today,” Koizumi said at the ongoing 25th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate

By The Japan News
December 13, 2019