May 25, 2022, Wednesday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Integrity: a must in candidature


The Nepal Weekly
February 15, 2022

As political parties and the Election Commission head for May 13 local polls, they have to bear in mind that integrity in candidature should be duly emphasized as a priority number one. It should be given high weightage in determining the qualities of any candidate for any post in the local government. People often refer to endless series of complaints against corruption, bribe, nepotism, red-tapeism and financial irregularities at the grass-root level. Scrutiny bodies such as Office of Auditor General, National Vigilance Centre and Commission for Investigating Abuse of Authority also indicate the same with evidence in their periodic reports every year. The latest report of Transparency International, a global anti-corruption group based in Berlin, found no effort made in the country to control corruption in the past two years. The score of Nepal’s Corruption Index 2022, therefore, stood, like in 2021, at 33 (indicator of widespread corruption) with the country’s position being in 117th out of 180 countries. One way to address the problem is to ensure that candidates for election possess a sense of service to the people, have commitment to be fair in handling authority with a sense of high integrity and dedication and pledge non-tolerance towards corruption. Although some could argue about integrity as an abstract concept and therefore not feasible to be addressed, it is something that could be seen in the way candidates approach issues facing local government. Political parties and their leaders have, as is known to all, key to select candidates for the local elections. They should take integrity, and not personal loyalty to them, as important for picking up candidates. Although they will find it too difficult to accept and practise, they had better display innovative approach this time, like a torchbearer, and show that they are committed to the high value of integrity just for the sake of leveling down the scale of corruption, which is, like cancer, affecting all sectors in the country. It is their duty to the nation as well. If one big party and a high status leader takes a step towards this direction, others will also be inspired to do the same and an enabling environment for promoting the cause of candidature with integrity in election could be produced and that would be a real great contribution to the cause of nipping corruption from the top to the bottom. The EC should also emphasize the point as it spreads voter-education and informs people on ways to prepare themselves to pick up candidates of their choice freely, fairly and with no fear. The media, civil society and other democratic institutions should also emphasize the integrity of candidates as highly important in the electoral process.