November 15, 2017 05:00 AM NPT
By: Arjun Oli
NEPALGUNJ, Nov 15: Political parties have been breaching the election code of conduct by extorting funds from local traders and businessmen.
The news of forceful extraction of money by the left alliance of CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) came to light after victims themselves complained against the act.
The code of conduct enforced by the Election Commission outlaws forceful donation collection from any individual or institution. If any individual or institution wants to donate more than Rs 5,000, they have to do so through banking channel.
Victims have claimed that the alliance has violated the code of conduct by demanding hundreds of thousands of rupees from each businessman in Nepalgunj.
“Leaders of left alliance have threatened me indirectly, saying that 'evaluation will be made after the elections',” a businessman told Republica, showing a letter sent by the alliance.
The letter is signed by Coordinator of Finance Committee of the Left Alliance Kismat Kumar Kakshapati and assistant coordinator Lalit Kumar Rauniyar. Kakshapati is also the president of Khajura Rural Municipality.
The businessman also said that the left alliance was expecting donation of Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000. “But I am not in a position to provide them such a huge amount,” he added.
Most of the businessmen have received similar letters.
Though most of the businessmen and locals have already provided their contributions, some are still reluctant to comply with the demands.
“We provided monetary contribution during the local level elections. Now, the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) are asking us to contribute again,” another businessman said. “Our business is not so good. We can either pay our bank installment or provide donation to political parties,” the businessmen said, expressing disappointment.
Ashok Koirala, Banke district chairman of CPN-UML, claimed that they have not forced anyone to give donation. “We are collecting whatever traders are giving willingly. We cannot force anyone in today's world,” he added.
Though traders and businessmen support political parties during every election, they say that political parties turn mute spectator when they are in trouble.
Kiran Koirala, chairman of Banke district committee of Nepali Congress, says that her party has not sought donation from traders and businessmen yet. “We only accept what they give willingly,” she added.
The Election (Offences and Punishment) Act 2073 has provisioned fine up to Rs 100,000 and scrapping of candidacy if a candidate is found breaching the election code of conduct, according to Regional Election Officer Basanta Adhikari. “One can find a case against candidates involved in forceful collection of donation at the high court by furnishing necessary evidence. Central Election Code of Monitoring Committee can directly take action against such candidates on the recommendation of District Election Code of Conduct Monitoring Committee,” Adhikari added
Chief Election Officer of Banke, Bishnu Subedi, said that the office will take needful action against candidates if there is sufficient evidence of forceful collection of donations.