Age does not make a difference to a person who wants to make a difference in the society and is active in social life. This is what Himalaya Sumsher Rana, Nepal’s renowned economist, first governor and finance secretary shows.
Although Rana is now ninety-four, he is actively taking part in civil movements organized to strengthen a democratic system to make the country economically prosperous.
At a time when the fourth wave of COVID-19 is infecting the people in large scale, 94-year Rana attended one of the most relevant and important programs organized to improve the fairness and accountability in the forthcoming general elections.
Taking certain health precautions, Rana addressed an interaction program on Implementation of the Constitution: Setting the agenda for the new parliamentary elections.
Organized by Constitutional Watch Group and Nepal Law Society and chaired by former chief justice of Supreme Court Kalyan Man Shrestha, Rana, who is chairperson of General Elections Observer Committee (GEOC), narrated his long experiences of observing the elections since 1951.
In a program attended by people from various walks of life including leaders from leading political parties, constitutional lawyers, political scientists and members from civil society, Rana said that the forthcoming elections are highly important for Nepal as the country has been facing several problems including diminishing foreign currency reserves, economic slowdown, inflation and corruption and that there are problems between the government and parliament
He said that all civil society members, political parties and elections authorities have responsibility to work to make the forthcoming elections free and fair preventing the use of money and muscle power.
Rana, a highly respected person of Nepal, said that democracy and republic are necessary to overcome all the crises. He said that periodical free and fair elections are pre-requirements for the strengthening of Nepal’s democratic and governance system.
Rana observed that the situation is getting more expensive since he started the observation of the elections in 1991.
“It is unfortunate that the political parties have been power centric and candidates are contesting the elections to win for the power,” said Rana. Rana underlined the need to make elections free, fair and accountable.
“I have been reading the news about political coalitions and counter coalitions. Parties are focusing to grab more seats as far as possible to form the government,” said Rana. “I am missing how political parties implement their elections manifestoes and commitments to make the country prosperous and rich,” said Rana.
At the event opened by Krishna Man Pradhan, executive director of Nepal Law Society, former chief justice and chairperson of Constitution Watch Group Kalayan Man Shrestha highlighted the issue and agenda for the forthcoming federal and provincial parliaments.
He strongly objected the formation of alliance to contest the elections accusing political parties and leaders as being more interested in the political power rather than delivery of service and goods to the people.
Former chief justice Shrestha stressed the need to put pressure on the political parties and leaders so that they cannot muddle the elections process much. “We all need to be watchful to uphold the essence of the elections,” said Shrestha.
In her opening statement, Shilu Manandhar Bajracharya, vice chancellor of Nepal Open University, said that election observation is a key ingredient to ensure free and fair elections.
Professor Krishna Khanal presented achievements and failures of the parliament and searched for the way forward for the new parliament.
Jayapuri Gharti, leader of Maoist Center, defended political alliances in the elections. “There is nothing wrong to make political coalitions to contest the elections,” said Gharti, expressing dissatisfaction over the comment on making coalition.
Nepali Congress leader Meen Bishwokarma and Surendra Pandey of CPN-UML also highlighted challenges relating to implementation of party manifesto and complex situation of elections and governance process.