CHITWAN, July 6: Even though he was elected the chief of Ward no. 14 of Bharatpur Metropolitan City (BMC) in the first phase of local polls, Om Prasad Pokharel of the Nepali Congress (NC) has neither received his certificate nor taken the oath of office. The results of 27 of the 29 wards of the metropolis are out, but all elected representatives are facing the same problem as Pokharel.
“We cannot stay idle even if we have not taken the oath nor have received our certificates. The people have started coming to us with their problems and we are trying to help them as much as we can but we don't have the legal status to solve those problems,” said Pokharel.
The first phase of local elections took place in Bharatpur on May 14 and after nearly two weeks, the poll results of 27 wards had come out. Out of 2,898 voters 1,800 votes had been counted in ward no. 19. Then ballot papers were torn and since that midnight a sense of uncertainty hangs in everyone's mind in Bharatpur.
The police arrested two CPN (Maoist Center) representatives for allegedly tearing the ballot papers. A case was filed against them at Chitwan District Court but the decision regarding the vote count of ward no. 19 has reached the Supreme Court. The vote count of Ward no. 20 has also been halted since then.
Chandramitra Pandit, the chairperson-elect of ward no. 3 said, “I don't think this situation will remain undecided for long. However, we also cannot stay quiet and watch the local problems like a mute spectator.”
“The people were excited to see their representatives after 20 years. If the elected representatives had got the legal status, they could have formulated different policies and worked to solve the problems of the locals. But sadly, they are still waiting to assume office. It's been an agonizing wait,” said Prem Raj Joshi, executive officer at Bharatpur Metropolitan Office.
There was an electoral alliance between the ruling parties, NC and Maoist Center, in this metropolitan city. As a result, NC did not field its candidate for the post of mayor and endorsed Maoist Center's mayoral candidate Renu Dahal, daughter of Maoist Center's chairman and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. After the completion of vote counting in 27 wards, Dahal was still trailing behind CPN UML's Devi Gyawali with 789 votes.
The CPN UML has accused the Maoist Center of conspiring so that there would be a re-vote in ward no. 19 “and the voters could be manipulated to vote for Dahal.” The UML wants the voting process to resume soon but NC and Maoist Center have demanded a re-election.
The hearing on the ward no.19 vote counting case has been scheduled for coming Friday in the Supreme Court. CPN-UML Bharatpur district chairman Krishna Bhakta Pokharel is confident that the apex court will end their wait and give its final decision on the case on Friday itself.
“The final decision regarding this vote count must not be deferred,” NC Bharatpur district president Jit Narayan Shrestha echoed the same concern.
Assistant Election Officer Gambhir Ghimire said, “The situation changed after May 28 midnight. We have to wait until the Supreme Court gives its final decision on the oath-taking of the elected representatives.”
The results of the second phase of polls are in the final stage. “It is an irony that the elected local representatives in Bharatpur still have to wait to start working while those elected in the second phase of polls have already assumed their offices,” said an elected representative of Bharatpur.