“What is your name?”
“Do you know who the candidates are in our municipality?”
“Then why are you going home? We have done so much to get you home, but you do not even know the candidate?”
Murmu has no reply for the political party cadre.
“Bhagwan Raut,” says the man sitting next to him. “I will tell him about our candidate.”
“Do you have a voter ID?” the party worker asks the man.
“No, but my name is on the voters’ list.”
“Good, otherwise it will be difficult for us. After all, we are going through so much trouble to get you home.”
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This was an overheard conversation earlier this week between a political party mobiliser and a passenger getting ready to board a bus in Kathmandu’s Koteswor intersection.
The bus had been chartered by Bhagwat Raut, the UML candidate for mayor of Trijuga Municipality in Udaypur district, a 8 hour drive away. One of the passengers was Chandra Roka, and he was among people on the voters’ list that were being provided free transport by the party.
The other parties in Trijuga are also rounding up voters in Kathmandu and busing them to vote in their home districts.
Many of the 17,733,726 registered voters for the 13 May local elections are not in the voters’ list of Kathmandu where they now live and work. An estimated 300,000 people have travelled to their home districts this week to vote in Friday’s elections.
Most have got a free ride home from political parties, some are even getting a stipend, in return for votes. Even before the journey begins, the party cadre is already educating the passengers on the complicated ballot paper, the election symbols of their candidates, and how to vote.
But not everyone is going to vote for the party’s candidates in return for the ride. Purna Maya Biswokarma, 88, is waiting for another free bus ride to her village in Sindhupalchok provided by the Maoists party. She has no plans to vote for anyone.