Where is the security?
Former health minister and Nepali Congress leader Gagan Thapa narrowly escaped an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on Monday morning at Chapali of Budhanilkantha Municipality. With a day left to go for the polls, this incident and a spate of other security incidents will have a chilling effect on the voters on Election Day. To put things in context, both the local elections and the first phase of polls saw far less dangerous attacks on the campaigns of the candidates.
PM Deuba, who also heads the Home Ministry, and the security agencies have not been able to convey to the voters that the security situation for Thursday’s election is sound. That’s a shame.
Gagan Thapa is arguably one of the most widely followed political leaders of our times. Perhaps this is why there was a strong reaction against the attack on social media platforms. Twitter is full of people outraged at the attack on Thapa. Rabindra Mishra, leader of Bibeksheel Sajha Party, said: “Cowards will never win in this world. The cowards that attacked Gagan Thapa need to be strictly punished. I wish that all injured have a swift recovery!” Not only Mishra, but even other candidates such as Baburam Bhattarai and Rabindra Mishra (not to mention Nepali Congress leaders) have condemned these attacks. Even members of civil society have gone on twitter to express their outrage. People are also asking why the security agencies have not even figured out with a certainty as to who are behind the attacks. Though the initial suspicion landed on cadres of the Netra Bikram Chand-led CPN, they have not claimed responsibility for the attacks and concerned authorities remain clueless. Security agencies need to do more to catch the masterminds behind these attacks. The citizens of this nation need to be assured by the state that they will be protected while employing their democratic right to vote.
It is largely known that one of the main reasons that security is in such disarray is that there is no strong leadership at the top. Ever since Maoist leader Janardhan Sharma was relieved of his portfolio, PM Deuba has taken over the Home Ministry. However, campaigning activities coupled with his work-load as PM have not allowed Deuba to fulfil his duties at this ministry, which is in charge of all security matters. But the blame completely lies with Deuba for first taking the ministry away from Sharma, and then not finding another home minister—even as he saw fit to expand Cabinet to forge electoral alliances. Deuba, who carries the tag of being incompetent for failing to hold elections twice in the past, needs to understand that a low voter turnout due to fear of harm will reflect badly on his political legacy.
The Himalayan Times, December 7, 2017
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