KATHMANDU, April 6: The Election Commission (EC) is to start printing the ballot papers for Province 2 from Friday even as the government is still negotiating with the agitating Madhes-centric parties to bring them on board the election process.
As of Wednesday, the EC had forwarded the ballot paper designs for 67 out of the 75 districts. "We will send the designs for the eight districts of Province 2 as we have to conduct the elections on May 14," said Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Ayodhee Prasad Yadav, adding, "We will not stop the process."
Election Commissioner Narendra Dahal, who looks after logistics for the upcoming local elections, also ruled out any possibility of stopping work on the ballot papers for Province 2. Asked whether there was any chance of the election body reconsidering its plan to conduct elections across the country at the same time in view of opposition by the Madhes-centric parties, Commissioner Dahal ruled out any possibility of delaying the elections in Province 2. "There is no point withholding the printing of ballot papers. We will press on," said Dahal.
Ballot papers are being printed at the tightly-guarded Janak Shikshya Samagri Kendra (JSSK), the state-owned press in Bhaktapur district. Of late, the election body has not halted an election once the ballot papers are in the press.
Province 2 includes Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari and Sarlahi districts. Of these, Bara and Parsa have already sent their recommendations on the polling stations, indicating that they are ready to go for the local polls. Province 2 is sensitive in terms of elections as some political parties based there have been demanding that the constitutional amendment should be endorsed and the number of local units increased before the elections take place.
The EC is in the process of fixing the polling stations in that province based on the recommendations of the chief district officers, in the context of the parties refusing to offer their own recommendations. "The chief district officers are working on finalizing the polling stations. We will fix the polling stations and poll preparations will be expedited accordingly," said Dahal.
CEC Yadav said they will also print the voter rolls and voter IDs and dispatch poll education materials to all 75 districts despite the government's failure to bring the agitating parties on board so far. The EC is dispatching the education materials from Friday to educate voters on the technical and practical aspects of the voting.
"Till Thursday, we had printed the voter rolls and ID cards for 11 districts. These will be dispatched to the districts together with the education materials from Friday," said EC Spokesperson Surya Prasad Sharma.
Meanwhile, 10,000 ballot boxes purchased from China have been stuck at Kerung on the Nepal-China border for a week due to landslide and delays in customs clearance. "The company awarded the contract for the ballot boxes may have to airlift them if the road obstruction is not cleared," said Commissioner Dahal.
The EC has awarded AIT Pvt Ltd the contract for supplying 29,000 ballot boxes from China.
Although the EC had purchased some 70,000 ballot boxes during previous elections, it decided to purchase an additional 30,000 large-size boxes, in view of the maximum number of political parties regi.stered with the EC in some districts.