Nepal is headed for midterm polls slated for April 30 and May 10 this year. The government is making every effort to conduct the polls in a free and fair manner. For this, an array of administrative and financial decisions has been taken. On Monday, a meeting of the Council of Ministers decided that the midterm elections will be held in 40 districts of Province 2 and Gandaki, Karnali and Lumbini provinces on April 30 in the first phase and in 37 districts of Bagmati, Sudurpaschim and Province 1 on May 10 in the second phase. The fixture of places where the phase-wise polls will be held is expected to gradually build atmosphere for the upcoming election.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli inquired about preparations for the polls. He visited the Election Commission (EC) office and held discussion with the EC officials on the related issues such as security situation, registration of the political parties, law and budget, among others. While expressing his satisfaction over the poll preparations, PM Oli assured that the government would extend all kinds of resources to the EC to hold the elections. He asked them to move ahead the election-related works uninterrupted, according to the news report of this daily. Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Thapaliya informed the PM about the ongoing dispute of Nepal Communist Party (NCP). In its decision taken on January 24, the EC said that the NCP had not formally split. It had rejected changes to the organisational structure of NCP made following the House dissolution on December 20 last year.
The PM’s meeting with the EC’s officials had taken at a time when the EC is working to sort out the NCP’s dispute. Even if the EC has not recognised the division of the NCP, the party had split into two factions – one led by PM Oli himself and another by Prachanda-Nepal faction after PM Oli dissolved the House of Representatives (HoR) and announced the midterm elections. The two groups are in legal fight to claim the party’s poll symbol and official recognition, which has delayed the process of the registration of political parties for the purpose of the midterm elections. Some political parties, including Prachanda-Nepal faction, have been staging street agitation, demanding the restoration of HoR. They have termed the House dissolution as unconstitutional and undemocratic while dismissing the possibility of the elections.
The Supreme Court (SC) that is conducting the hearing the writs against the HoR dissolution is under pressure to wrap up it by the end of this Nepali month. Delay in issuing the verdict on the petition writs has put the EC in dilemma. Against this backdrop, the PM’s meeting with the EC’s officials seeks to overcome confusion and give confidence to them. Oli had dissolved the HoR after raging dispute within the party came to a head. But he sought a fresh mandate to elect the new HoR as early as possible. His commitment to holding the polls within the stipulated date contradicts the claims that HoR dissolution smacks of the elements of regression. After all, the election is the soul of democracy and the holds key to solving all political disputes no matter how much challenging and formidable they are.