KATHMANDU, Jan 18: Giving full shape to the Election Commission (EC) has become a complicated task after the major political parties started pitching hard for their own candidates for the vacant posts of commissioner.
Currently, the EC has only Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav and Ila Sharma on its commission board. Three posts on the five-member board have been vacant since former chief election commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety and commissioners Dolakh Bahadur Gurung and Ram Bhakta PV Thakur retired from their posts.
While the ruling Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Center) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party are pushing hard to line up candidates loyal to these respective parties, the main opposition CPN-UML is also bargaining hard to secure its position in the election body. The parties are pushing their own names from among retired bureaucrats for appointment as EC commissioners, in the context of the constitutional deadline for elections approaching fast.
Sources privy to developments say the UML is demanding two seats, saying the commissioners appointed at the recommendation of the party have already retired.
Yadav, who was appointed as commissioner ahead of the 2008 constituent assembly election, was promoted to chief election commissioner in July. He is considered loyal to the Maoist party although he was recommended to the post by the then UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli-led Constitutional Council.
The other commissioner, Sharma, was appointed from the NC 'quota'. Among the retired commissioners, Uprety and Gurung were picked from the UML 'quota' while Thakur was favored by Madhes-based parties.
On the basis if previous equations at the election body, the UML is demanding two commissioners. “It's quite natural to claim so [two commissioner] as per our strength,” said UML leader Agni Kharel when asked about this.
The UML will be asking Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal at the earliest to appoint the election commissioners . “We have already raised the issue. As head of the Constitutional Council it is up to the prime minister to move the matter ahead,” said Kharel.
Law Minister Ajaya Shankar Nayak said conflicting demands from the parties are affecting the appointment of EC commissioners. “The prime minister is in consultations. He will hold further discussions and taken a decision upon his return from abroad,” said Nayak, who is a Maoist leader. Dahal is currently in the UAE.
The EC, which is already under pressure to conduct three sets of elections-local, provincial and parliamentary-by January 2018 as stipulated in the Constitution, has been without a full board since August 2015. Although its daily activities have not been stopped the election commissioners say they have not been able to do their best because of delay in filling the vacant positions.