Who has trademark of the word “independent”?

According to the Nepali dictionary, the word ‘independent’ means ‘being free from the subjugation, pressure and bounds of the others and exercising that freedom, using it as means to acting and thinking for one’s own self’.

Independent can also mean having no dependence on, no shelter or anything of the sort from others.

As things are right now, ‘Independent’ can also be regarded as the most popular word in Nepali politics.

During the previous local level elections, the triumphant victories of independent candidates in Kathmandu, Dharan, Dhangadi and many such other local levels has made it so that the word ‘independent’ is being chanted in every discussion regarding the country’s politics. Due to the mounting successes of independent candidates, the upcoming elections of every level will see an increase in the number of candidates who will run independently. I too am amongst those candidates.

However, there’s a false notion going on that the whole trend of independent candidacy began on the 2079 local level elections. To give more clarity on this matter, this article focuses on the history of independent candidacy in the House of Representatives.

The history of independent candidates in the general elections of Nepal

After the end of the Rana regime in 2009 BS, the first ever general elections or elections for the first House of Representatives were held. For the first time, political parties and independents, directly came forth as candidates in 105 constituencies. At the time, only 9 political parties received election symbols. However, 12 independent candidates with no party affiliations entered the field with elections symbols like that of a bird, fish, finger, elephant, sarangi, horse, boat, flowers and others as such.

After 2014 BS, the elections for the House of Representatives happened in 2048 BS. With a mere 2 years passing away after the first general elections, Non-party Panchayat system took place. Subsequently, the success of the second mass movement of 2046/47 enabled the people to participate in the elections to choose their representatives again after 17 years.

After the re-establishment of the multi-party system, 20 parties took part in the elections. 219 people gave independent candidacy. Among them, 8 were female representatives.

Three independent candidates even emerged victorious in the elections of 2048 B.S.

Similarly, the general elections held in 2052 B.S had 273 males and 12 females participate as independent candidates. Among the 285 independents, 7 emerged victorious. The general elections/ elections for the members of House of Representatives of the year 2056 had a total of 633 independent candidates amongst which 26 were female representatives. The following two elections for the constituent assembly had 893 and 1114 independent candidates respectively.

Similarly, The first ever federal election held in Nepal in the year 2074 B.S, had 474 male candidates and 38 female candidates, a total of 492 candidates who ran independently. The total number of votes these individuals managed to receive was a massive 73,243. In the same elections, the Naya Shakti Party manage to amass a total of 84,037 from their candidates from their respective assembly constituencies. During that time, the candidates of the Bibeksheel Sajha Party managed to gather a total of 96,233.

Independent candidacy in a multi-party system

We are working with an election module for the multiparty system as well as the election system for the members of parliament, that is engrossed in things such as games of power play or ‘games of thrones’, that discards fair and ethical election procedures.

If anyone is running independently instead of running through the ranks of a party, their reasoning behind doing so can be discussed by presenting a number of factors and opinions. I have tried my best to present these factors and opinions in a few concise paragraphs.

Some people run independently after failing to receive tickets/authorization from the party. Such people are often labeled as ‘Bagi’.

Some people cannot be bothered by the hassles they have to go through in order to receive a ticket/authorization to run through a party, such people refuse to do so as the parties often move with unethical approaches that goes against their moral code. To preserve their moral code and do things in an outright ethical manner, some people run independently.

There are also those who run independently simply because they don’t like any of the parties or their vision doesn’t go hand in hand with any of the parties available. These kinds of people also seem to be the ones who opt for the Panchayat system and advocate for the practice of there being simply 2 parties for the election. There are also some that speak their wish for a man like Junga Bahadur Rana to be the supreme leader of the country.

Some stand up for elections in hopes of a bit of fame, some with the mentality that trying to change things by stepping up yourself is better than waiting for others. This became quite clear to me after I stepped up in the 2074 elections.

Nowadays, the election craze has increased to such an extent that people who are working abroad are coming to Nepal to contest in the election, some even quitting their jobs in order to do so.

The elections of the year 2079 has become historical in the sense that its witnessed the most number of people accepting the word ‘independence’ and running independently. Through social media platforms, came to know about this even before the Election Commission published the report on the registration of candidates. Because today, the first thing to do is to announce your candidacy on social media.

The words ‘discussion and viral’ also play a very big role in declaring independent candidacy. But, I don’t believe that any independent candidate running simply for the sake of buzz and ‘becoming viral’. Because I believe that everyone worries about this country, be it little or a lot. There is a shared mentality that the situation of the country should be improved. I also think that those who have announced their candidacy have understood that they may or may not be discussed in the election and may or may not be ‘viral’.

The current wave of independence is not only a wave in the parliamentary practice which is proceeding with the unity of those who’ve been elected through parties, but is also an act of  rebellion against said unity and the notion of speaking only in the interest of the party within the parliament.

Elections cannot be fought by any ordinary person. This is true because contesting elections is a process of compromising on one’s daily life, work, family and relationships, managing one’s personal financial situation, fighting through the eyes of other political parties and leaders. So naturally, it’s difficult. But common voters can win by voting for the candidate they like, this is a fact. The current wave of independence is not to end the multi-party system, but rather, to institutionalize multi-party, improve the party’s goals and objectives, changing the priority of the party, from self-interests and the ‘throne’, to go on the path of political ideas, strengthening the country’s economy, and uprooting the corruption and criminal mentality of the society. I think that there was a need of independent candidacies, with no other option left than to explain the major parties what they did not understand ; waiting for the corn in their fields to fall, the mice entered the corn field and everything was about to be destroyed.

What can an independent do after winning?

In a syndicate of parties, what can you, a single individual do? This phrase use to come to me every now then , but nowadyays, every day. But there’s validity to that questioning because the 275 people who entered the House of Representatives as MPs did not use any clause that could be used by being an MP, other than the time when ‘the party should vote’. Other than this, an MP could be heard on the mic here and now. But, the prestige of the parliament was damaged when some parliamentarians spoke out of the blue without preparation. Even more so than being unprepared, the scenes of the parliamentarians who are supposed to act in accordance with the legal procedures by being gentlemen, sometimes jumping up and jumping with their arms and legs flailing, have not left a good impression on the minds of the common people.

It is not wise to conclude that just because those MPs did such ‘acts’, that is what an MP would do/is supposed to do. An MP, whether he is elected as a non-party candidate or through a party ticket, can do many things in the House of Representatives apart from just doing things ‘as directed by the party’. The main thing is how many MPs did or did not do those things.

What rights has our law given to an MP?

The 3 core parts formed with the principle of separation and balance of power, necessary in the operation of the state; legislature, executive and judiciary. The parliament falls under the legislative branch. The main work of the legislature is to think, discuss, study, consult and research. Based on this, new policies are to be made and old policies are to be amended/revised. It is the legislature’s duty to show a concrete path to the executive and also to guide the society as a whole. Section 99 of the Rules of the House of Representatives, 2075 has provided the right for any member elected to the House of Representatives to present a bill. When any policy is at the stage where it is still being discussed and passed in Parliament, it is called a Bill. A bill registered by an MP is called a non-governmental bill. A bill registered on behalf of the government is called a government bill. It is also imperative that ordinary citizens and voters question whether our representatives have passed any bills for the policies we need. What kind of path to adopt for the country’s economic development? , what resources are needed for that?, what laws to destroy the roots of social evil?, how to maintain smooth international relations?, what kind of international policy to adopt with which country?, what kind of policy in education can get citizens jobs?, what is happening in the education sector so far? , how can it be improved?, what is the health condition of our citizens now and how will it be in the future?, where are we now in terms of technology and where should we be?, how can we improve the federalism model in order to develop the country sustainably?. The Parliament is the main place to discuss, consult and create guiding documents based on consensus to answer the questions above.

Every now and then I hear – what difference can some people, simply speaking their wishes on a mic, in front of the parliament, possibly make? Speaking won’t cut it! Working will!

In reality, It is one of the major duties of a parliamentarian to step forth on the parliament and speak the voice of their constituents without being pressured, intimidated or tempted as well as to analyze, inspect, question and present insightful opinions regarding the actions and initiatives of especially the Prime minister and the council of ministers.

But what can we see happening? When there is a government of UML, only the Congress will speak and when there is a government of one faction of the congress, only the UML or the other faction will ask questions!

This is wrongful practice. It does not do justice to the parliamentary system. The people should always come first as they’re the ones who put the MPs where they stand. In a democratic state, the power is in the people’s hands and the sovereignty vested in the people is exercised by their representatives.

The biggest difference maker between being elected as a representative of the parliament through a party ticket and being elected as a non-party independent is “freedom of speech”. Although it is written in the constitution that there is freedom of speech in the parliament, the party and party-affiliated businessmen/individuals sacrifice their freedom of speech when talking about work-related issues or any other similar topics that may hamper the party’s interests. So, the MP’s elected on behalf of the party are obliged to check their conscience from time to time so as not to be biased.

Such an obligation doesn’t apply to an independent representative. Everything said in the Parliament is recorded. Therefore, the answer to the question of who will discipline the independents and who will hold them accountable is; public. The party elected representatives should also be more careful about what they say, since everything is being recorded, but due to the strength of the party, they care less about this matter. The MP, who’s supposed to be talking about one thing, goes off-topic and then is shocked himself after realizing he’s strayed off topic. This clearly shows their lack of preparation regarding the subject matter. Such a problem won’t occur with independent candidates since they don’t have the strength of the party to correct the errors they might make.

Anyone willing to increase their role in the Parliament and do the post of the MP justice, should study for four-five hours and then only present their thoughts after intensive analysis of their study. Otherwise, their words won’t hold real value and the meeting of the parliament won’t hold its prestige. They should remember that the vote and trust of the people is what got them to where they stand now.

How can you be representative if you forget your people, the source of your power?

Therefore, MPs should exercise their rights fully, all the time, while speaking about subjects that have to be spoken upon. It’s important to speak.

Another powerful right that an MP has is that the Prime Minister and the relevant ministry must answer to questions asked by the MP, either orally or in writing. For this reason, when MPs ask a topical question, if they ask a concrete, objective question, the answer has to be objective.

Another important time in the same line of questioning is when the Appropriation and Finance Bill and the Policy and Program for the financial year are tabled in Parliament. The parliamentarians should think about the budget by studying the books of the thematic budget with immense effort on their part. If that idea is kept according to the facts, evidence, and data, it can change the amount allocated in the financial year and the upcoming programs.

Apart from speaking and asking questions in this way, parliamentarians also have the role of radically reforming the functioning of the state, reducing corruption, and creating pressure to make the government an ideal servant. I will discuss this in detail in another article.

Now let us again discuss the one of the havocs the wave of independent candidacy sweeping across Nepal, is causing in year of 2079.

Who owns the trademark or patent-right of Independent? Who is free, who isn’t?

At the beginning of this article, we understood the meaning of the word independent and about the independent candidacy that has been growing since the history of elections in Nepal. The constitution and laws of Nepal have created their guidelines visualizing any individual running as an independent candidate for various reasons since Bikram Sambhat 2015. I am deeply grateful for this.

But in today’s digital era, people who are ready to run as independent candidates have to get entangled in various political/technical issues. Due to this, situations have been created where I want to be free, but I become an ‘aruwa’.

According to the Nepali dictionary, ‘aruwa’ means ‘to walk in other people’s beliefs or to walk in other people’s steps’.

In Nepal’s electoral system, voters have to cast their votes on ‘symbols’. This means that every candidate must identify himself with the election symbol. Independent candidates do not get election symbols as soon as they announce their candidacy to society and on social media. If they declare their candidacy according to the schedule of the Election Commission and there are no claims or objections, they get a separate ‘independent’ election mark only after a few days. Candidates from every party registered with the Election Commission can carry out their ‘propaganda’ using their party’s election symbol. Because of this, parties with the independent name, independent parties with different names, and alternative campaigns (parties) were registered with the Election Commission, and their candidates are carrying leaflets with their photos and holding election symbols to advertise that they are independent candidates.

Even the name of the party and the campaign has the word independent, but what else can be said other than independent? A real pickle!

Analyzing this, it’s safe to say that in the federal election of 2079, independent candidates should be classified as party independent and non-party independent candidates.

Now, a question that has been really wracking my brain – who is specifically independent? Who owns the trademark for this word? Usually a question is asked and answered first. But in this article there is an answer first and a question at the end, the answer of which is necessary for the reader to ponder.