KATHMANDU, Oct 11: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) is hiring 98,000 temporary police personnel for the upcoming parliamentary and provincial assembly elections. The move is reportedly being taken without consulting the Election Commission (EC), that too at a time when a lesser number of security personnel is expected to be required for the elections.
The EC is conducting the parliamentary and provincial elections simultaneously in two phases. So, it is expected that fewer number of security personnel would be required for the polls. Issuing a public notice on Tuesday, the police headquarters called the interested candidates to apply for temporary police. Although the responsibility of ensuring foolproof security during elections lies with the Ministry of Home Affairs, it has not yet consulted with the EC about whether such high number of temporary police personnel is required for the polls. It was expected that lesser number of security personnel would be required for poll security.
An assessment conducted by the security agencies ahead of the May 14 local election had concluded that 54,000 personnel from Nepal Police, 30,000 personnel from Armed Police Force, and 1,000 from National Investigation Department (NID) could be mobilized while additional security personnel could be mobilized from the Nepal Army.
"We are in the dark about the recruitment of temporary police. A meeting has been called with the security agencies on Thursday when they might brief us about the security challenges," said EC Commissioner Narendra Dahal.
Recruiting temporary police and mobilizing them during elections has been expensive. According to the notice, the government will pay Rs 17,230 per month to each temporary police personnel. Besides the monthly wage, each of them will also receive Rs 7,100 for uniform, Rs 1,000 as transportation allowance to and from the deployed area, and a special 7-day allowance of Rs 250 per day during the elections and Rs 250 per day for food.
Temporary police personnel will be hired for 55 days. If 98,268 police are hired for the polls, it will cost Rs 56,463,232 a day. Their salary alone for 55 days will cost Rs 3.10 billion.
Former acting Chief Election Commissioner Dolakh Bahadur Gurung said even as arranging security for polls always remains a sensitive job, the number of temporary police personnel to be recruited for the elections is too high. "We had hired some 60,000 temporary police personnel even though the Constituent Assembly election was conducted in a single phase across the country," said Gurung.