KATMANDU, Oct 5: The Election Commission (EC) has asked National Reconstruction Authority's Chief Executive Officer Govind Raj Pokharel to furnish clarification within 24 hours about his involvement in pre-poll campaign in Pyuthan.
A board meeting of the election body on Thursday took the decision after concluding that Pokharel's participation in pre-poll campaigns in Pyuthan was a blatant violation of election code of conduct. Pokharel, who hails from Pyuthan, belongs to the ruling Nepali Congress party. Pokharel was appointed as chief of NRA by the NC-CPN (Maoist Center) coalition government replacing the then chief Sushil Gyewali. Pokharel has been accused of influencing election by misusing state resources, local leaders of NC's rival parties said.
Both the government and the NRA have been criticized for sluggish post-earthquake reconstruction. Over 700,000 earthquake victims are living in makeshift tents since more than two years due to sluggish reconstruction works while infrastructures and heritage sites destroyed by the earthquakes of 2015 are yet to be reconstructed.
According to EC, Pokharel was found campaigning for NC since September 10 whereas the election code strictly bars public officials from being involved in poll publicity campaigns. Due to his involvement in politics, NC local district committee has unanimously recommended Pokharel as the party's candidate for the upcoming parliamentary elections from Pyuthan district.
Concerned with the Pokharel's pre-poll activities in the district, the EC has also dispatched a separate letter to the chief district officer of Pyuthan to make arrangement for his immediate removal from the district. Sending a letter to Pyuthan's CDO, the Election Commission's Joint-attorney General Geeta Prasad Timalsina has asked the local authorities to make arrangement for his immediate eviction saying that Pokharel has been found involved in party programs.
Meanwhile, local leaders representing CPN-UML, Maoist Center and Naya Shakti Party Nepal have drawn the government's attention regarding NRA chief's participation in the pre-poll campaign. Issuing a joint statement, they said Pokharel misused the state resources and his authority to influence the recent local elections and he has repeated the same thing for the upcoming elections.
"So, we urge the government to stop the misuse of state resources. It is a breach of election code of conduct and rule of law," states the joint statement.