KATHMANDU, April 10: With 33 days left for the May 14 local elections, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) has sought the consent of the Election Commission (EC) for transferring over 300 police officials prior to the polls.
MoHA, which had already transferred 12 deputy inspectors general (DIGs) together with some top ministry officials, has now sought the permission of the election body to transfer another 300 plus police officers ranging from SP and inspector to other ranks.
The EC has expressed displeasure over the ministry’s repeated proposals to transfer police officials ahead of the election. It has decided not to allow the government to transfer any police officers unless the officers had already been deputed by police headquarters.
“The election commission has decided to give its consent for transferring police officials if these were already deputed. The EC cannot give its consent if the government wants to make fresh transfers,” said EC Spokesperson Surya Prasad Sharma.
Out of the 300 police officials whose transfer has been sought, according to EC spokesperson Sharma, the EC has consented to the transfer of less than 100, and these had already been deputed to different parts of the country. However, MoHA is continuing to pressure the EC for permission to make the transfers it seeks.
Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav also said the government is seeking consent for transferring a large number of police officials before the elections. “The government has urged us to allow [them] to transfer a large number of police,” said Yadav.
The EC has been criticized for not enforcing the election code of conduct more effectively. Contrary to the past tradition of enforcing the election code immediately after the announcement of the poll date, the EC had this time brought the code into force only a week after the poll date announcement.
Taking advantage of this delay, the government had transferred 12 DIGs. Similarly, 10 DIGs of the Armed Police Force and 35 under-secretaries working as chief district officers were also transferred before the election code kicked in.
Furthermore, the EC has relaxed the code somewhat after ministers complained to the election body. Last week, the EC allowed ministers to participate in poll campaigning as long as they used their own private vehicles.
Before this, the EC had sought clarifications from deputy prime ministers Bimalendra Nidhi and Kamal Thapa for attending public functions in the villages. Initially, the EC’s code barred ministers from going beyond district headquarters, the thinking being that their presence in the villages could affect the elections.