KATHMANDU, Jan 14: Amid huge pressure from the opposition party and some ruling parties to declare the date for local polls, the parliament forwarded the Local Level Election Bill to the State Affairs Committee (SAC) on Friday, prolonging its endorsement process from the House.
Lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties had suggested endorsing the bill through fast-track process, paving way for the declaration of the election date. But the government decided to forward the Local Level Election Bill and Election Offence and Punishment Bill to the House committee, stating that the House cannot sort out all amendment proposals on the two bills.
The government has been dilly-dallying the announcement of the polls date, stating that it could be announced only after the endorsement of the bills related to election. The SAC has already been delaying finalizing three other election-related bills. Bills related to political parties, voters list and duties, responsibilities of the Election Commission were forwarded to the committee on October 16. However the committee hasn't submitted the bills to the House so far.
“We are planning to finalize the three pending bills within next week. Then, if two new bills could be discussed in a fast-track way, they could be finalized in the next 10 days,” said Dil Bahadur Gharti, chairman of the SAC. According to him, the committee has convened its meeting on Sunday and Monday to discuss on the pending election-related bills.
The Election Commission has been repeatedly stating that enactment of election-related bills at least four months before the election is a must. Though the government has been vowing to hold the local level polls by April, endorsement of necessary bills is likely to delay the polls.
If the committee finalizes the bills at the earliest, it would take at least another fifteen days. Then, the House also should hold deliberations on the report of the committee before endorsing it.
While, endorsing the bill within January, the Election Commission would require another four months for preparatory works. In this way, the election seems only possible in the end of May.
Elections have never been held in Nepal after May as the monsoon starts and most of the population dependent on farming gets busy on planting corps.