It’s 11:00am on a sunny winter morning in Nepalese capital. But Ishwor Pokhrel hasn’t finished his ‘morning walk’ yet.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) general secretary is busy soliciting votes from one door to another in Kathmandu’s Ranibari area. He will walk another 30 minutes before calling it a day.
Pokhrel is not alone. Voter apathy has forced most candidates of Nepal’s forthcoming Constituent Assembly elections to leave their cars and walk miles daily seeking support.
“Instead of holding roadside meetings we have adopted this method to reach out to more voters,” said Dipendra Shrestha, a CPN-UML cadre managing Pokhrel’s campaign.
There are over 40,000 households in Pokhrel’s Kathmandu-5 constituency and he intends to reach out to as many as possible before polling on November 19.
“There’s a difference this time around. Voters want candidates to come to their doors and we have to comply,” said Nepali Congress general secretary Prakash Man Singh.
Failure of parties to formulate the constitution despite four changes in government and several extensions of the previous Constituent Assembly’s tenure is the main cause for voter indifference. That’s one reason why only 12.1 million of the total 16 million plus eligible voters have registered themselves. In 2008 election the total number of voters was 17.5 million.