LAHAN, March 29: With the deadline to register candidates for the second phase of local elections now just four days away, Madhesi parties opposing the polls are in dilemma whether to dedicate their time and resources planning for protests or to contest in the polls.
The Election Commission is establishing returning officers' office in all 461 local units on Monday. As per the election calendar, parties need to file their candidacy for the second round of local elections on July 2. Missing that deadline will close doors for the parties to contest in the elections slated for July 14.
Even before filing the candidacy, parties have to verify the voter roll of the candidate before becoming eligible to contest for the polls. Hence, those parties who are in a fix over participating in the polls will have difficulties to manage time if they fail to act soon.
While some Madhesi parties are certain to contest in the elections, others are opposing it saying that the constitution amendment bill should be passed before the elections can take place. Likewise, they are also demanding increase in the number of local units in the tarai districts.
Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN), which is one of the influential parties of Madhes, has already begun poll campaigns in tarai districts. The party, led by Upendra Yadav, is contesting the elections arguing that they should safeguard the achievements gained from previous protests.
On the other hand, Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), a newly formed political party after the merger of six fringe Madhes-based parties, is strongly against the elections.
RJPN is adamant on its stance that its demands have to be met before holding the elections. It has announced to obstruct the polls if their demands are not met.
Leaders of the Madhes-centric parties have so far failed to reach a common ground. The divided views among the Madhes-based political parties have resulted in further confusion among the Madhesi people. Uncertainties have made some certain section of the society to call for postponement of the election to seek more time to reach consensus.
“RJPN is firm on not participating in the elections until the constitution amendment bill gets endorsed. This has posed a big challenge for the government to bring them onboard,” said Rajanikanta Jha, an intellect of Sarlahi district. “As the main opposition CPN-UML has made it clear that it will not support the amendment bill, the government is faced with an uphill battle to take the second phase of elections forward,” he added.
Jha urged the parties to give justice to the people's enthusiasm. “All the parties should be series to create proper environment to hold the elections successfully. If for some reasons the people become deprived from exercising their voting rights, the blame will go not only to Madhes-centric parties, but also to the big political powers of the country,” he added.