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Govt set to write to EC to stay prepared for polls

The government has decided to write to the Election Commission (EC) to make necessary logistical preparations to hold election by mid-May. Top leaders of the ruling political parties made a decision to write to the EC to stay logistically prepared as the time is already running short for holding three elections by January, 2018. The decision comes in the wake of the parliament inching closer to endorsing all election-related bills that are required to hold the local level election. Senior leader of the ruling CPN (Maoist Center) Narayan Kaji Shrestha said the EC must be instructed to make necessary preparations for holding the poll if it is technically difficult to announce election date. "This is what I have been personally suggesting to the government to do for over a month now. I am hopeful that a cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday will take a decision along the same lines," said Shrestha. 

The government is balking at announcing date for election as the agitating Madhes-based parties have threatened to boycott the poll in case the government announced poll date without bringing amendment to the constitution. There are fears that announcement of the poll date amid opposition of the Madhes-based parties could vitiate environment for the poll. During a meeting with the agitating Madhes-based parties on Monday, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had inquired about their reaction if the government withheld the decision to announce election date, but directed the EC to make necessary preparations to hold the local level poll by mid-May. The prime minister had said that the government would announce election date only after amending the constitution. 

The preparation by the government comes after the agitating Madhes-based parties positively responded to the prime minister's proposal. "Obviously, we do not have any objection if the government makes internal preparations and announces election date only after amending the constitution," said General Secretary of National Madhes Socialist Party Keshav Jha. The government has already tabled a seven-point amendment bill to address the concerns of the Madhes-based parties. As the government has failed to secure necessary two-thirds majority in parliament in favor of the bill, it remains pending for over a month. 

The agitating Madhes-based parties have also warned that they would not allow the election to take place if the government accepted the existing report of the local-level restructuring commission (LLRC). They maintain that the current LLRC report delineates only 31 percent of local units in 20 Tarai-Madhes districts that constitute about 51 percent of the total population. "The LLRC report has yet to be accepted by the government. I wonder on what basis will the election commission make necessary preparations even if the government instructs it to do so?" asked Jha. 

Kosh Raj Koirala



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