MPs for banning candidates for 10 yrs for involvement in tearing ballot papers

Published On: July 30, 2017 04:30 AM NPT

KATHMANDU, July 29: Taking their cue from the ballot-tearing incident during the vote count for the local polls in Bharatpur Metropolitan City (BMC), lawmakers have sought a strong legal penalty against candidates and party representatives who get involved in ballot-tearing in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Registering amendments to the Bill on Election of Members of the House of Representatives, a lawmaker has sought a 10-year ban on the candidates if they are themselves involved in tearing ballot papers or seizing the polling center. 

Most of the lawmakers registering amendments to the bill demanding punishment for the candidates or their representatives involved in tearing ballot papers are from the CPN-UML. 

The lawmakers have registered amendments to the bill as the election result for the mayoral post of BMC is yet to be announced though 50 days have passed since the local polls were held there. Election officials couldn't announce the winner of the mayoral post in BMC as the representatives of the CPN (Maoist Center) tore some ballot papers when just a few thousand ballot papers remained to be counted. 

The case is sub-judice in the Supreme Court for over a month. The UML candidate for Bharatpur-19 ward committee chief moved the apex court challenging the Election Commission's decision to conduct a re-poll in the ward. UML mayoral candidate Devi Gyawali was ahead of Maoist Center candidate Renu Dahal by a few hundred votes when only a few thousand votes were left to be counted. Renu, who is also a daughter of Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, is the common candidate of two ruling parties-- Maoist Center and Nepali Congress.

UML lawmaker Rewatiraman Bhandari has demanded barring any individual involved in the seizure of the polling station or tearing ballot papers for 10 years from contesting any election and also from proposing and seconding any candidate or representing a candidate during the vote counting process. 

UML lawmakers Agni Kharel, Bhanubhakta Dhakal and Krishnabhakta Pokharel, among others, have proposed that vote counting should be continued while invalidating only the torn ballot papers in the event of tearing ballot papers. 

“Vote counting should be continued after sealing the torn ballot papers if any candidate or representatives of the candidate tears some ballot papers, causes any kind of damages or seizes the ballot papers,” reads the amendment proposal jointly registered by the UML lawmakers. 

The lawmakers have also proposed dividing the office term between the candidates if two or more candidates secure an equal number of votes in an election. The provision in the original bill, however, proposes to decide the winner through drawing lots. In the last local elections, winners were decided by drawing lots in various local units where two candidates secured an equal number of votes.

In their amendment proposals, Maoist Center lawmakers Ram Narayan Bidari and Kamala Dong have, however, demanded to split the office tenure equally between such candidates and deciding the first one to serve the office based on the alphabetical order. 
Many lawmakers from Nepali Congress (NC), UML and Maoist Center have demanded to reserve up to 50 percent electoral constituencies only for women. NC and UML lawmakers have proposed reserving 55 of the total 165 parliamentary electoral constituencies exclusively for women and changing these 55 constituencies in each election on a rotation basis. But Maoist Center lawmakers have proposed reserving 82 constituencies for women in the parliamentary elections. 

Anjana Chaudhary, Durga Khuna, Rupa Maharjan, Goma Kunwar, among other lawmakers, have jointly registered an amendment to the bill. 

Ramhari Khatiwada of NC has proposed electing the members of the House of Representatives through the first-past-the-post electoral system and electing National Assembly members through proportional representation. 

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