Photo - Jiyalal sah

Nepalis turned out in large numbers to vote in the final phase of the final elections Thursday that marked the end of a post-war transition that lasted 11 years. Everywhere, voters said they hoped for a stable and prosperous Nepal. Some prayed at the ballot box after casting their vote, other mothers like this one in Birganj on Thursday (above) brought along their babies to drive home the point that they were voting for a brighter future.

Despite the cold, a busy harvest season, and some threats of violence, the average turnout touched 65% in the second phase of parliamentary and provincial elections in 45 hill and Tarai districts. With the last of three tiers of elections now done, the Constitution of a federal, secular and democratic republic is now operational.

Despite widespread criticism for having squandered the gains of repeated struggles to restore democracy, and for prolonging the transition, ageing leaders from the three main parties deserve some credit for having brought the country to this historic crossroad. Fourth-time prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has partially redeemed himself by pushing through with the elections against all odds.

Gagan Thapa, idolised by many as the future face of Nepali politics, posed for a photo with his daughters before going to vote, and shared it on social media with a caption: “My resolve is to handover a prosperous Nepal to my daughters’ generation.” (See p13 for social media posts.)

Thapa, an NC candidate in Kathmandu 4, was injured in a bomb attack on Monday, and his post summed up what Nepalis voted most for (peace, prosperity and stability). Despite the hope for a brighter future, however, many remained skeptical about change because they saw many of the same leaders of the same parties that repeatedly let voters down over the past 27 years still standing for office.

Anti-corruption maverik, Govinda KC who has been on multiple hunger strikes against the medical mafia, told us: “I don’t think there will be a drastic change in the country because we are going to have the same people who betrayed the people back in office. But we know how to make irresponsible leaders responsible.”

Published – Nepali Times Dec 8 – 14, 2017