Local leaders warn against poll deferral

April 20, 2017 05:00 AM BHIM CHAPAGAIN and SHER BAHADUR KC

ILAM / BUTWAL, April 20: Leaders and cadres of the major political parties in various districts have warned of strong protests if the local polls scheduled for May 14 were deferred. 

The warning from the ground comes at a time when some leaders are casting doubt over holding the elections on the stipulated date citing the agitating Madhes-based parties' refusal to participate in the elections. 

Leaders and cadres of Ilam district chapter of major parties said they will protest within their parties and beyond if their respective parties make excuses to postpone the election. Youth leaders and cadres of Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) are determined to hold the elections on the said date. 

“We are exerting pressure on the party not to postpone the election under any pretext,” said Himalaya Karmacharya, district president of the ruling NC. “Even in the recent Province 1 meeting on Tuesday, we raised this issue and pressurized the leaders to hold the elections on the scheduled date. We believe the elections won't be deferred now, and have prepared for the elections accordingly.”

UML's district secretary Mahesh Basnet also said that holding the elections on May 14 as planned is a must. “Some highly placed, responsible government authorities are casting doubt over the elections. This shows that the government is irresponsible,” he said, adding that the country will fall into a deep crisis if the elections are postponed.

Leaders and cadres of the ruling Maoist Centre are also in the favor of holding the elections as scheduled. “We are intensifying our election campaigns and there is no alternative to holding the elections on time,” said Jeevan Sharma, secretary at the Maoist Center's district-based office. 

Student wings and sister organizations of the major as well as minor political parties also echo the same view. Similar voices are being raised in Rupandehi district. Leaders and cadres of the major parties are warning their central leaders not to backtrack on the decision to conduct the elections on the said date. 

Matrika Yadav, NC president of Rupandehi, is busy managing dual responsibilities at present. Not only does he have to fulfill his leadership role as the party's district president, but he also has the responsibility of selecting the party's candidates for various municipalities and rural municipalities in the district for the upcoming elections. He also aspires to become the mayor of Siddhartha Municipality.

This shows that the election fever has gripped the country's local units even though some government officials have expressed uncertainty over conducting elections in May. The aspiring candidates have already started their election campaigns while the locals are eager to finally exercise their voting right and elect their local representatives after a hiatus of nearly 20 years.

With preparations for the polls going on in full swing, local leaders are exerting immense pressure on the central leaders of their parties to hold the elections on time. UML district chairman Shiva Subedi said the locals' enthusiasm for elections itself is exerting pressure on the government to hold the elections on time. 

At present, the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) has formally decided not to participate in the upcoming local elections citing lack of progress in the constitution amendment and government's reluctance to increase the number of local units in southern plains on the basis of population. 

However, locals of various districts do not want the elections to be postponed under any pretext. “The election environment has already been created. Nepalis will not spare those who want to defer the polls,” said Dadhi Ram Neupane, politburo member of the ruling Maoist Centre.

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