KATHMANDU, May 28: As part of its final preparations to conduct the second round of local elections on June 14, the Election Commission (EC) is setting up returning officers" office in all 461 local units in the four provinces on Monday.
The EC, which has already conducted first round of elections in 283 local units in the mountainous and hilly regions of the country, has focused its preparations on the remaining local units--mostly in the southern plains of the country. 'We are fully focused on making the second round of local election a success. Returning officers" offices are opening from tomorrow,' said Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav adding, 'There is no point backtracking from the elections.'
The commitment from the election chief comes at a time when speculations are rife on whether the second phase of the elections scheduled for June 14 will be held as the major tarai-based party, the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal refusing to go to the polls.
RJPN, which was formed after a merger of six fringe parties ahead of the elections, has been demanding that the constitution be amended to accommodate their demands and the number of local units be increased in the tarai. Additionally, the RJPN has demanded "umbrella" for election symbol.
CEC Yadav said that he is aware of the demands raised by the RJPN but will move ahead with the election program arguing that all preparations have now been completed. 'So far, we are firm on holding the elections. Let's see how the political parties cooperate with us,' said CEC Yadav.
Election commissioners believe that the government will consult it before taking any decision related to the elections. 'They will definitely consult us even if they want to defer the polls. We want to make the June 14 elections a success,' said election commissioner Ishwari Paudyal.
Since the government had earlier planned to hold the local elections across the country simultaneously, the EC has already printed ballot papers, voter ID cards and voter roll for the tarai districts where the second round of elections are being held on June 14. The election materials, however, are stored in district offices of the commission. Poll officers are already on the ground.
The election body has been refusing to give umbrella to the RJPN. The commission has said it will allow the party to choose from among six election symbols that were allocated to the RJPN constituent parties before their unification.
Six tarai-centric parties were united to form the RJPN in the hope of having a greater success in the upcoming elections. The new party was formed by merging the Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party, Sadbhavana Party, National Madhes Socialist Party, Madhesi People's Rights Forum-Republican, Tarai Madhes Sadbhavana Party and Federal Sadbhavana Party.
Amid confusions over the polls, Commissioner Paudyal said the elections will be held as scheduled. He believed that election fever will grip the tarai districts after the offices of the returning officers are set up. The EC has already established chief returning officers' offices in 41 districts.