A woman being carried to a polling center to vote in Bajura district on Saturday. Photo: Republica
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.