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First-Phase Federal And Provincial Elections

Issue November 2017

First-Phase Federal And Provincial Elections

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


First-phase federal and provincial elections peacefully held at 37 constituencies for House of Representatives and 74 constituencies for the provincial House of Representatives of 32 districts for directly electing 37 federal House of Representatives and 74 provincial House of Representatives on November 26, 2017 are done with minor incidence at some places. Ballot boxes are transported to the chief district election offices for safe keeping until the second-phase elections to be held on December 7, 2017 are completed. Chief election commissioner has continued to warn the government, political parties, candidates, and political cadres of taking severe actions for violating the election code of conduct. However, the government and the political parties have been taking the warning easy. NC leaders go on the negative campaign whereas the left alliance leaders on the positive.


Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav has been glad about the peaceful completion of the first-phase federal and provincial elections, and thanked all the folks directly or indirectly involved in for successfully holding the elections. He also informed that the average votes cast has been 65 percent but anticipated that it would increase after the second-phase elections to be held on December 7, 2017. The lowest votes cast was 55 percent in the Manag district and the highest 81 percent in the Bajura district.


Poll experts have put forward several reasons for the less votes cast during the first-phase federal and provincial elections than the votes cast during the local election 73 percent in average. One of the main reasons is the cold climate in the mountains and high hills where the temperate has been below zero at the time of voting. Another reasons are the candidates for the federal and provincial elections are not so directly concerned with the local needs and deeds, and bombs have been going off at some places enough to scare away some voters; so, voters’ turnout has been comparatively low but still highly commendable. Voters were very enthusiastic to cast the votes at the time of local elections because the candidates were local ones and they knew the candidates and they wanted to elect the best ones so that they would deliver State services promptly, the election experts have said.


Election Commission (EC) has to postpone the elections at two polling booths in the Rukum district after some folks dislodged the elections process attempting to burn ballet boxes, and pouring acid in ballot boxes in another. So, EC cancelled the elections held at the two polling booths on November 26, and declared to hold re-elections at the Ratna Lower Secondary School voting booth at Bafikot Rural Municipality-5 and at the Gattasaina voting booth at Aathbiskot Municipality-12 in the Rukum district later, according to the news in “gorkhapatra” reported on November 29, 2017



Eligible 2,575 voters of Tingla in the Solukhumbu district have effectively boycotted the federal and provincial elections not taking the voters’ ID cards and not showing up at the polling votes protesting against the relocation of their area to another municipality at the time of restructuring of local bodies, according to the news in the media. They had boycotted the local elections, too. This is how democracy works.


Ballot boxes from different polling booths have been brought to the chief district election offices for the safe keeping until the completion of the second phase elections. Helicopters brought some ballot boxes from the far high mountains; other ballot boxes were transported on horses, on human porters and on vehicles wherever roads are available.


EC has put all ballot boxes with votes cast on November 26, 2017 under seal. In presence of the representatives of political parties, EC put the seals on the windows and doors of the rooms where ballot boxes are stored. No chances of tampering the ballot boxes and ballot papers in them after the well secured and managed storing of ballot boxes is done at the chief district election offices. Security guards the rooms for 24 hours a day.


EC has shown weakness in complying with the election laws making the Supreme Court to order for compliance with laws. The first case is a single ballot paper the EC has proposed for both the federal and provincial elections provoking an advocate to appeal the Supreme Court for printing two separate ballot papers one for the provincial and another for federal Houses of Representatives following the Election Act. The second case invalidating a candidate involved in a criminal case is of Shivapujan Raya Yadav at the constituency-4 in the Sarlahi district for the federal House of Representatives after the Supreme Court asked the EC what it has done pursuant to the House of Representatives Election Act in response to the complaint of other candidates such as Ganesh Kumar Singh and Anil Kumar Singh at the same constituency lodged at the EC on November 5, 2017 demanding to rescind the Yadav’s candidacy, as the Special Court had indicted him for misusing the special passport he had held as a lawmaker. Previously, EC rescinded the candidacy of Govinda Raj Joshi after his rival Ramchandra Poudel complained to the EC that the Special Court had indicted Joshi for corruption.


Talking to the reporters at his office in Kathmandu on November 27, 2017, Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav has said that any poll survey goes against the election code of conduct at the time when the first-phase elections are completed; and the second-phase elections to the House of Representatives and provincial Houses of Representatives are going to be held on December 7, and the poll survey is punishable by law. He also has said that any poll survey has been illegal from the date of filing the nominations of candidates at the EC until the election results are released. He also advised the media not to publish any poll survey held in violating the election code of conduct.


EC has said that the vote count will be started immediately after the completion of the second-phase elections on December 7, 2017. The vote count will be started off at the chief district election offices following the election law. That is why all ballot boxes with the votes cast needed to be transported to the chief district election offices. Since the incident of tearing off some ballot papers in Chitwan at the time of counting the ballots cast during the local elections, EC has made the representatives of candidates off-limit to the vote count. However, they could see the ballot papers, and could check the votes are for which candidates.


The Biplav Maoists have been blowing up improvised bombs not causing any physical damages but enough for terrifying voters but later on, some serious injuries including the death of a temporary police were reported. Former Prime Minister KP Oli has been strongly criticizing Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba holding the portfolio of home ministry for not ensuring the security and safety of candidates, cadres, and finally the voters allowing the bombs going off at various places. This is a violation of the election code of conduct.


Other kinds of violation of the election code of conduct have been drastically reduced. For example, fighting among the various groups of political cadres during the election campaign has been drastically reduced. Except for a few incidents of clash among the political cadres belonging to different political parties on the campaign trails, no violence has been recorded. EC has to warn almost none of the candidates of the violence of the election code of candidates except for a few cases.


The government has been always the target of the EC for warning of the violation of the election code of conduct. EC has ordered the government to revoke the transfer of six under secretaries done going against the election code of conduct. EC has served a notice to former Prime Minister KP Oli asking him to submit the explanation within 24 hours of why he has been publishing the ads with his picture on different newspapers asking voters to vote for his party and him.


EC demanded explanations from CPN-UML and five national daily newspapers such as Kantipur, Nagarik, Annapurna, Naya Patrika and Rajdhani within 24 hours for violating the election code of conduct simultaneously publishing big advertisements of the party with a picture of CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli and urging the voters to vote for the party on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, the news on stated on November 29, 2017. Pursuant to the Clause 5 B (I) of the Election Code of Conduct, advertisements not longer than a minute, four times in 24 hours and in a gap of at least an hour can be aired on TVs, and radios, and an advertisement of up to 7×7 inch only can be published in a single newspaper in a day.


The news on the posted on November 30, 2017 stated that the cabinet of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had distributed NPR 160 million to the political cadres in violation of the election code of conduct; the cabinet decides whom to give how much and then sends the decision to the finance ministry, and then the finance ministry transfers the amount to the home ministry to distribute; after the cabinet decision the brokers become so active whether the persons in whose names the amounts are released would receive the money is very doubtful.


Prime Minister Deuba has been holding several portfolio since he has suspended all the ministers including the deputy prime minister the CPN-Maoist-Center has seconded when the NC and the Center have been in good term and in alliance; in fact, Deuba did so after the Maoist-Center and the CPN-UML has declared the left alliance. However, none of the ministers quit the office for the fear of Deuba not holding the provincial and federal elections as scheduled. The Deuba’s cabinet has a large number of the ministers without portfolio. Thus, Deuba is heading the government of 64 ministers. Certainly, it has given some jobs to the political leaders otherwise they would have been jobless.


Then Deuba formed a democratic alliance with democratic minded political parties including the Naya Shakti party of former Maoist Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai. Bijaya Gacchedar of Madheshi Forum merged his party to NC of Deuba. Gacchedar was a strong NC leader before he quit the NC party and joined the Madheshi Jana Adhikar Forum for baiting a bigger fish but he has to come back to his mother party after the threshold set for political parties to cross for being a national party. Most of the small political parties have either joined the NC or the left political alliance for the fear of finding nowhere after the elections.


Practically, the left alliance and the democratic alliance have been competing each other for winning the majority in the federal and provincial elections. Most of the small political parties including three RPPs (Rastria Prajatantra Party) and even some Madheshi political parties might disappear from the national arena after the elections. They have the choice of joining either democratic alliance or the left alliance.


Engaging in the negative election campaign, Prime Minister Deuba has been causing worries to the democrats. Speaking at the mass rally in Tehrathum on Monday, November 27, 2017, Deuba has said that the current elections are the wars fighting to death for winning as the left alliance might impose a one-party dictatorial system if the left alliance were to win the elections, according to the news in “gorkhapatra” reported on November 28, 2017.


Deuba was one hundred percent correct to say the elections are like wars need to fight to the finish to win. However, his strategy of fighting the wars is nowhere near the reality. Fighting war needs to have disciplined cadres or soldiers, and a well-set organization but Deuba lacked both.


Violating the party discipline, and denying well-deserved party cadre the nominations, party president Deuba gave a party nomination to his spouse Dr Arju Rana Deuba for running for the federal House of Representatives. Surely, many party cadres must be furious at the Deuba’s arbitrary actions. How could Deuba fight the war with such indiscipline actions?


Once the party president himself does not honor the values and the norms of the party how well Deuba could put the party in a strategic position to win the war. So, engaging in the negative election campaign, Deuba has put the NC at the risk of losing the war. The sad story has been that not only Deuba but also senior NC leader Ramchandra Poudel and General Secretary of the party Dr Shasank Koirala have been following the Deuba’s negative campaign.


Stating the left alliance might impose the one-party dictatorial system, and voters would have hardly any elections in the future if the left alliance were to win the elections, Deuba has gone back to the political issues of 1950s and even farther back when Nepalis needed to get rid of the despotic rulers of that time. This is the strategy Deuba adopted to scare away the voters from the left alliance rather than to attract voters to NC adopting the strategy of positive campaign.


Deuba has unlearned the lessons the then Supreme Leader Ganeshman Singh had taught leading the united left front for putting an end to the no-party panchayat system and putting the monarch within four walls of the palace in 1990. Voters would have believed Deuba if he were to tell the voters that he would lead the left alliance as did Ganeshman Singh in 1990, and build economy and make Nepal a corruption free prosperous country. Common folks want at least the Deuba’s commitment to this end.


However, Deuba never touched the economic development issues in his campaign speeches rather went on talking about the possibility of one-party dictatorial system, which anybody having a little knowledge of politics would hardly believe in. The question is why Deuba and his colleagues Ramchandra Poudel and Dr Shasank Koirala have been so shy to talk about the economy and corruption so endemic in the country. They need to understand democracy would have a little relevance to hungry folks that are suffering from the corruption. So, democracy would not make much sense to the common folks without the economic prosperity and the end of corruption in the administration.


Deuba would have hardly any gains from the negative campaign instead voters might take it as the childish campaign launched after being nervous of the possibility of the left alliance winning the elections to the federal and provincial Houses of Representatives.


The leaders of the left alliance have been in the positive campaign promising the economic prosperity for the people. They have shown their political maturity not vigorously and negatively reacting to the charge of the left alliance would impose a dictatorial system Deuba making on the left alliance.


Now, the mass rally of Anil Sharma candidate of the left alliance for the Federal House of Representatives at the Kathmandu constituency number two held at the southern gate of the convention hall at Nayabanesvor in Kathmandu on November 28, 2017 blocking the vehicular traffic causing tremendous troubles to commuters for five hours would not be in his favor for securing the swing votes rather would push them to the opposition candidates.


Even before the elections the left alliance candidate is for making troubles to the common folks then what the candidate would do if he were to win the elections, voters would surely think about it, and would vote for the most appropriate candidate that would give at least a hope for the future betterment. Candidate Anil Sharma needs to understand it.


One of the left alliance leader KP Oli showing up at the mass rally of Anill Sharma two hours late has simply dishonored the importance of the time of the participants in the mass rally. Anybody could easily compute the total numbers of hours the folks assembled at the mass rally have lost if the number of the participants multiplies by two hours Oli has held them. If Oli does not honor the common folks’ time, and does not care about coming in time for the mass rally what he will care for after he wins the elections. So, it was not surprising Oli did not do anything for easing the lives of the common folks when India imposed embargo on Nepal in September 2015 for about five months. How could anybody believe in his speech?


Even then Oli was late by two hours to address the mass rally, he did not miss bashing NC. He has said that the NC has miserably failed in leading the country to prosperity despite the voters giving the NC majority votes twice, according to the news on on November 29, 2017. “The current leadership of the NC is not honest, though the party has a glorious history of having great leaders like BP Koirala and Ganeshman Singh. But today's leaders of NC are not trustworthy,” Oli said addressing the mass rally at Nayabanesvor, the news on stated.


November 30, 2017

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