KATHMANDU, Sept 14: The Election Commission (EC) has no plans to take action against Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav said even as he accepted that the cabinet expansion was in breach of the election code of conduct.
On Monday, Prime Minister Deuba had inducted four new ministers in the Council of Ministers, making his cabinet the largest ever in Nepal's history. The election body was under fire for failing to take action against what the leaders of the main opposition party say "the government's complete disregard for the poll code of conduct".
"What to do? We can't just fine the prime minister or take action against him. Our attention has been drawn to the cabinet expansion. But this doesn't mean the EC is powerless," Yadav told media during an interaction at reporter's club in the Capital on Wednesday.
"Moreover, the prime minister himself told journalists at Biratnagar airport that the cabinet expansion was his compulsion as the country is under political transition. The prime minister has already given his clarification on the issue, so the EC doesn't want to drag out the issue any further."
Even as he admitted that the EC failed to take action against the prime minister, Yadav reiterated that the election body was committed to holding the elections in free and fair manner. He said that the EC was strictly monitoring the poll activities of the parties. Yadav said that the election body has sought clarifications from various senior leaders including Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadhar over charges of breach of election code.
"Minor breach of the code is normal. But the EC will take action against parties and leaders if there is gross violation of the code," said Yadav, hinting that the violation of the poll code is not as serious as reported in the media.
When asked about the EC's failure to book the candidates who have organized huge feasts to woo voters, Yadav said that the election body would scrap the candidacies if it receives ample proofs of such activities.
Republica reporters on the ground said that many candidates have been hosting feasts to woo voters.
Yadav said that the EC was mobilizing inspection and monitoring teams across the tarai to monitor the election campaigns of the parties.
"We are also in regular touch with senior leaders of the parties. They have reaffirmed their commitment to free and fair polls. I would like the political leaders, parties, and candidates to abide by the election code of conduct," said Yadav.
Yadav said that the EC was also carrying out voter education campaign throughout Province 2 to reduce invalid votes.