KATHMANDU, Jan 14:Concerned by the speculations about postponement of the second round of local elections scheduled for June 28, intellectuals, political analysts and party leaders in the southern plains have urged the government not to defer the scheduled elections under any pretext.
They have termed the frequent deferrals of the election as ‘political dishonesty’.
“If the government is sincere, it will make efforts to understand the core problems of the agitation and then will address them without giving any more troubles to the locals,” said Bhogendra Jha, a professor at Rara Multiple College.
Prof Jha said the government should try to reach to a conclusion instead of conducting elections amid lingering uncertainties.
“It has been more than a decade since the Madhes movement started. Even little children are aware of the needs and problems of Madhes. But why is the government taking so much time to understand them,” he said, adding, “People now fear that anti-federal and anti-democracy elements might emerge again.”
Senior politician Bharat Bimal Yadav, who was among those signing the historic 12-point agreement on behalf of the Madhesi people, also opposed the government’s decision to defer the elections time and again.
“Constitution amendment is the key demand of Madhes,” leader Yadav, who has currently severed ties with his party [Sadbhavana Party], said, adding, “They should do it if they can. If not, mere poll deferral does not make sense.”
Yadav said parties have already accepted the constitution directly or indirectly but its acceptability will be widened if the government amends it. By saying this, Yadav opined that parties should go to polls instead of delaying the scheduled polls time again in the context of the government failing to amend the constitution.
He is not sure whether the June 28 elections will take place in Madhes as scheduled. Initially, the government had decided to conduct the local elections on May 14 in a single go. But it decided to conduct the polls in two phases -provinces 3, 4 and 6 in first phase and the remaining four provinces in the second phase. After the success of the first round of elections, the second phase election scheduled for June 14 was deferred for June 23 saying that it will help to bring the poll opposing Madhes-based parties on board the elections. The government yet again deferred the second phase elections for June 28.
But still, the ruling parties are for deferring the elections in Province 2 and 5 among the four provinces. Yadav said he was not sure that the parties will amend the constitution even if the poll date was deferred.
“If they were capable of amending the constitution why did they fail to amend the constitution in a gap of a month and a half since the polls scheduled for May 14 were deferred?” questioned Yadav.
Surendra Labh, a professor of economics, said the government’s habit of deferring the polls is concerning. “RJPN’s protest is not aimed at deferring the elections. It’s for endorsing the constitution amendment bill, increasing the number of local units and freeing those locals who have been facing court cases.”
“Nothing has changed since the Madhes movement began a decade ago. The government should amend the constitution if it can. Repeated deferral of elections shows the government is incompetent,” said Labh.