June 12, 2017 01:45 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, June 11: Even as the poll-opposing parties unveiled a series of programs on Sunday to obstruct the upcoming second round of local elections, the Election Commission (EC) has instructed the local poll officers not to halt poll preparations but to stay prepared to make the polls a success at any cost.
Soon after the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), a key force in the southern plains of the country, unveiled its protest programs on Sunday afternoon, leaders and cadres of the party were quick to stage protests in tarai districts and target leaders and cadres of the rival parties.
Irate cadres of the poll-opposing party also tried to manhandle Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Ayodhee Prasad Yadav in Rajbiraj of Saptari. Also, the agitators torched flags of the Nepali Congress.
"We have no other option but to conduct the elections as scheduled. I have instructed all poll officers to continue poll preparations without listening to the political parties," CEC Yadav told Republica after RJPN cadres tried to manhandle him while he was attending a function.
CEC Yadav, who is currently on a visit to the tarai districts to analyze the challenges to the upcoming polls in the context of some political forces in Madhes warning to obstruct them, is instructing the poll officers, security officials and parties to stay prepared for the polls. "The political parties are free to participate in or boycott the elections but the security forces will do the needful if they prevent the voters from exercising their democratic right," said Yadav.
RJPN cadres tried to block CEC Yadav while he was on his way to attend an interaction organized by the district election office, Saptari. Police had to escort Yadav and other officers. The protestors greeted Yadav with black flags, chanted anti-election slogans and also tried to manhandle him.
"They [leaders and cadres of RJPN] are trying to obstruct the poll campaigns and election process. But we are firm on our mission. The election will happen at any cost," said Yadav.
Election commissioners say they are firm on conducting the second round of elections on June 28 as scheduled. In a meeting with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Saturday morning, the election commissioners asked the former to remain firm on making the scheduled election a success, arguing that a lot of compromises have been made in recent days in a bid to bring the poll-opposing parties on board the elections.
Both PM Sher Bahadur Deuba and election commissioners believe that addressing RJPN demands to revise the provincial boundaries and increase the number of local units in tarai districts is not possible before the polls.
"We have already demonstrated maximum flexibility to bring all parties on board the election process. Now, we are not going to make further compromises and the polls will happen as announced even if some parties do not participate," said Election Commissioner Ishwari Paudyal.
In Saturday evening's meeting, PM Deuba also stressed the need for conducting the polls if their last-ditch efforts made to convince the Madhes-based parties fail.
The election commissioners believe that RJPN's refusal to participate in the elections will complicate arranging security in some districts of the southern plains. They, however, committed to make the elections a success.
"We may have to act tactfully as RJPN's poll boycott has posed some security challenges. But we will make the elections possible," said Commissioner Paudyal.