| May 19, 2019

Plan to hold local elections infuriates Madhesi parties

KATHMANDU, May 9: The government has declared holding elections for the local bodies within Mangshir (mid-November to mid-December) under the transitional provisions.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari made the announcement unveiling the government's policy and programs at the Parliament on Sunday.
"Since it will take some time to determine the number and boundary and legal basis of local level as per federal structure, election for the local bodies, remaining without people's representatives for last 14 years, will be held within November/December 2016 under the transitional provisions," stated the government policy and programs.

The government has claimed that the election would help ensure democratic exercise at people's level, rule of law and leadership of people's representatives in local development, ending the void of people's representatives at local bodies.

On the other hand, agitating Madhes-based parties have said that the push for local election is a "master plan to delay and derail transforming country to federalism."

"Under federalism, it is the right of provinces to hold local election. The announcement made it clear that the government led by KP Sharma Oli either does not understand federalism or they are trying to delay and derail the course of implementing federalism," said Upendra Yadav, the chairman of the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal.

"As Prime Minister's past actions show that he is against federalism and political changes, we can say the announcement of holding election in local bodies is just a continuity of the master plan of derailing country's course from federalism, republicanism and secularism," he alleged.

Sadbhavana Party Co-Chairman Laxman Lal Karna also made similar comments. "Announcement of local election is a ploy to dissolve federalism. It was made just to show they are concerned about people but in fact they fear going to election," said Karna.

Though the government has said that the election would be held under transitional provision, ruling coalition partner UCPN (Maoist) said that the task of state restructuring and restructuring of local bodies should be completed before the election.

"Our party is of the view that all tasks related to restructuring should be completed before the election. We also believe that holding election under the existing local structure could delay the transformation of the country into federalism," said Krishna Bahadur Mahara, the general secretary of the UCPN (Maoist).

Nepali Congress leader Prakash Sharan Mahat said that the Nepali Congress is in favor of holding election for local bodies but doubted that the announcement could just be propaganda of the government.

"The government has not made it clear whether the election would be held under the existing local structure or a new structure. This could just be a propaganda as the government has held no discussion with the main opposition and the largest party in the parliament on the matter," said Mahat.