65% voter turnout in by-polls: EC

Published On: December 1, 2019 07:51 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Dec 1: By-elections conducted on Saturday to elect 52 new representatives at all there levels of government witnessed a 65.43 percent voter turnout, according to the Election Commission. 

The election body said this voter turnout figure was preliminary and it could increase once they receive the final details.

The highest voter turnout was recorded in the election held for  vice-chairperson of Kharpunath Rural Municipality, Humla district. Eighty-five percent voter turnout was recorded in the rural municipality, the Election Commission said. 

By contrast, only 16.4 percent voter turnout was recorded in the election for ward no. 1 chairperson of Thawang Rural Municipality in Rolpa. The EC said except for four  minor explosions in Kaski district, polling in the rest of the districts went peacefully. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the blasts and there was no report of human casualty.

Despite the bomb scare, voters in Kaski and all  the other districts  participated in the election with zeal.

The 52 seats including a seat in parliament and three  provincial assembly seats had been lying vacant after the incumbents died.  A total of 48 representatives at local government level are also being elected in the by-polls. 

A parliamentary seat fell vacant in Kaski-2 after  then tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari died in an air crash  in the district of Taplejung in February.  Both the ruling Nepal Communist Party and main opposition Nepali Congress have taken the Kaski election as a matter of prestige and they are ready with their political spins whoever emerges victorious.  

The  NCP wants to give a  message to the NC that the ruling party is still strong.  The NC for its part  wants to show the ruling party how the latter’s popularity is weakening due to its poor performance. In Kaski-2, the NCP has fielded the late  Adhikari’s window Bidhya Bhattarai, whereas Nepali Congress has fielded Khemraj Poudel, a party veteran. 

According to Kaski District Election Office, 67 percent of the total 71,871 eligible voters participated in the by-election. The voter turnout this time was  eight percent less than in the  2017 parliamentary elections. The same election constituency had  75 percent voter turnout then. 

Provincial assembly seats in Baglung, Bhaktapur and Dang fell vacant after Tek Prasad Gharti, Hari Sharan Lamichhane and Uttar Kumar Oli died. Lamichhane and Oli were elected from  NCP and Gharti from Rastriya Janamorcha. 

Like in the  parliamentary by election, the  NCP and Congress are considered  major contenders although several  fringe parties are also contesting. EC Spokesperson Raj Kumar Shrestha said vote counting has begun in several places. A few candidates at local government level were declared winners after completing the vote count. 

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