CHITWAN, May 31: Faced with imminent defeat, representatives of the ruling CPN (Maoist Center) on Sunday midnight tore off ballot papers while the vote count of Bharatpur ward-19 was ongoing. In an interview with Republica, UML mayoral candidate in Bharatpur Devi Gyawali has remained adamant in his stance that vote counting should continue by setting aside the torn ballot papers. Excerpts:
Republica: Where were you when the ballot papers tear incident happened on Sunday midnight?
Gyawali: Such an incident during elections is highly condemnable. I was inside the covered hall observing the vote count when the incident took place.
Republica: What did you observe?
Gyawali: The representatives of the Maoist Center sprang suddenly and started snatching ballot papers and tearing it off. Chief of Chitwan Police himself, who was present there, went there to stop the arrest them after the incident.
Republica: Maoist Center has accused your party of capturing ballot papers in their statement. What is the truth?
Gyawali: Our party representatives never captured the ballot papers. This is a totally false accusation as the district’s police chief himself is a witness. The guilty has been proven with the evidence. We have no reason at all to do such things.
Republica: The vote count has been postponed. Election Commission (EC) will take decision on the matter. Why have you guys started the protests?
Gyawali: As there are conspiracies to prevent the vote count, we are demanding the resumption of the vote counting.
Republica: Maoist Center and its electoral alliance Nepali Congress (NC) have demanded re-polling in Bharatpur-19. Why is UML against it?
Gyawali: They are staging such acts because they have plans to misuse the state’s power by capturing booths. As that is against the democratic values, we will not accept re-polling at all.
Republica: Why were the ballot papers torn?
Gyawali: As Maoist Center saw no possibilities to win the election, they retorted to tearing off ballot papers. As my opposition Renu Dahal is the daughter of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, I believe such an act is being staged to give the mayoral position to her by hook or crook.