Nepal is going to vote on November 20, 2022: India, China competing for a favourable result

Democratic instability has been the hallmark of Nepal since the days of the Monarchy (which was removed in 2008 after the communist takeover). Though PMs are no longer changed on the whims and fancy of the King, they do get changed frequently even now thanks to the vagaries of coalition politics and political infighting.

 

Now Nepal is going to hold national and provincial elections on November 20, 2022, and we - like every Nepali - want the election to bring a positive change in their lives. Let's discuss some

Nepal is going to vote on November 20, 2022

key points regarding the Nepalese Election 2022

Key Points of Nepal Election 2022

About 18 million people are eligible to vote for the 275-member parliament, as well as for the 550 members of seven provincial assemblies through a mix of first-past-the-post and the proportional representation system.

2 million new voters have been added to the electoral rolls. It remains to be seen which party catches their fancy.

165 of the 275 seats in the House of Representatives under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system. The remaining 110 members will be elected through proportional representation.

330 provincial assembly members under the FPTP system and another 220 through proportional representation.

Does Nepal have Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha?

Lok Sabha is known as the House of Representatives (lower house) whereas Rajya Sabha is called Rashtriya Sabha (upper house) in Nepal

This will be the second HoR and PA elections since the declaration of Nepal's constitution in 2015, which initiated the country's decentralization process.

Key Issues of Election: Economy, Inflation, and Political Stability

Nepal is a poor country with almost 20% of the population living on less than $2 a day. 3 crores of Nepalese are grappling with 6-year high inflation of over 8% which is driven by a surge in global energy and food prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. This comes after two years of COVID-19 pandemic shocks. So it's pretty much possible they could favour politicians who promise freebies or some sort of relief from inflation.

Nepal Election 2022: In search of the Elusive Political Stability

Nepal has had 10 different governments since the abolition of a 239-year-old monarchy in 2008. Nepali's three major parties - Nepali Congress, the Communist Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) party and the Maoist Centre - have all led different coalitions in the past but none have served the full five-year term due to power struggles and infighting.

Main Contestants

The contest is mainly between the centrist and pro-India Nepali Congress party and the pro-China UML party. The Nepali Congress - led by PM Sher Bahadur Deuba - is the ruling party looking to seize the power again through this election.

Political Spectrum of Nepal

Nepali Congress party is like the Congress Party of India but Who is the BJP of Nepal?

None! Nepal's political landscape oscillates between the left, ultra-left, and left of the centre political spectrum.

UML, Unified Socialist and Maoist-centre is considered leftist while Nepali Congress, Democratic Socialist Party and People's Progressive Party are considered centrist

The Incumbent

Nepali Congress party - the oldest and largest political party of Nepal - is seeking to return to power for the sixth time. His Nepali Congress party is considered the closest to India.

The Challenger

The main challenger is the UML - led by KP Sharma Oli - which is considered pro-China and anti-India. If they win, Oli can be the PM of Nepal for the 3rd time overall.

The outsider

The 3rd pole of the contest is Prachanda-led The Maoist Centre party. Their best-case scenario would be a hung parliament where they could get to play the role of a kingmaker. Who knows, Prachanda can be a compromise candidate for the PM post.

Nepal is going to vote on November 20, 2022

Who is likely to win Nepal Election 2022?

Unlike India, and most of the democratic countries in the world, Nepal doesn't have pre-election polls and surveys to judge the people's mood. So it's difficult to predict which party or coalition may win the election in 2022.

India and China's stakes in the Nepal Election 2022

Both nations would like to have a favourable government in Nepal. India has reasons to prefer a Nepali Congress rule whereas China must be backing a communist government - preferably led by UML's KP Sharma Oli.

China's stake in Nepal

China has strategic and economic interests in Nepal. Not only it is close to the heartland (UP & Bihar) of adversary India, but also there are multiple infrastructure projects under the Belt and Road initiative worth billions of dollars. China is also working on a very ambitious plan to link Kathmandu with Lhasa through a trans-Himalayan railway network.

Nepal is going to vote on November 20, 2022

India's stake in Nepal

India considers Nepal as its backyard and any meddling in this sphere of influence by an adversary like China is enough to give us sleepless nights. We have had historic civilizational, cultural, social and economic ties with Nepal for ages and we'd like to protect it at any cost. It's one thing to counter China along the Himalayas, but if Nepal begins to act like China's proxy, we will have another war front opening right across the Indo-Gangetic planes. A Nightmare indeed!

US stakes in Nepal

With China spreading its tentacles of influence in Nepal, the US can't be sitting quietly. To counter China's Belt & Road Initiatives, the US is investing $ 500 million in the building of roads and energy infrastructure in Nepal.

What do we expect from this election?

We want some semblance of political stability to begin with. The next aim is to have a government that is at least neutral if not pro-India. We can't let China flex its muscle in Nepal - so close to our heartland of the Indo-Gangetic Plain.

But do we expect that from this election? Not likely!

Considering history, lack of political maturity and morality in leaders, their extreme greed for power and blatant opportunism leading to shifting loyalties, we don't expect much from this election. Though we are hopeful for any change that is positive for the country.

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