NC district chiefs suggest interim local polls

Published On: August 13, 2016 02:30 AM NPT By: Sangeet Sangroula  | @SangeetJourno

Advise electing local representatives under existing structure for now
KATHMANDU, Aug 13: Nepali Congress district presidents have suggested to the party's leaders to stand for holding interim local elections, instead of clinging to the idea of conducting local polls only after the completion of restructuring of local bodies under the federal setup.

At least 23 district chiefs of the country's largest political party, during a meeting convened by NC leader Shekhar Koirala on Friday, advised him to go for local polls without further delay.

They said that since the proposal of the commission on local bodies that 565 local units should be created is impractical and will require a lot more homework still, the party leadership should press for holding the local body elections for now on the basis of the existing local setup.

Koirala sought the views of the NC district chiefs on the commission's proposal. The commission was formed to finalise the names and boundaries of local bodies into which the country is to be restructured. The commission has proposed 565 local bodies.

Most of the NC district presidents suggested negotiating with other political parties for holding interim local  elections, pointing out that a serious leadership vacuum has been created as no local elections have been held for the last 19 years.

“On the one hand, holding local polls has become urgent and on the other it is practically impossible to restructure the entire country into hundreds of new units within a span of just a few months and then hold elections across the country,” Koirala told Republica. “Therefore, we have no option other than  to go for local polls under the existing setup for now.”

He said the gathering decided to press the party president and other leaders over the interim local polls as the task of restructuring the local bodies in the new federal setup should not be carried out in haste and without proper study.

When outgoing prime minister KP Sharma Oli had announced interim local polls, the Nepali Congress, which was then in opposition, opposed the idea and even went on to register a proposal in Parliament stating that local polls must be held under the new federal setup.

“Since the reduced number of local units is not sufficient to ensure effective governance at local level, we asked the party leaders to amend the law as necessary and restructure the existing village development committees into village councils in line with the new Constitution,” said NC Jumla district president Jiwan Bahadur Shahi. “Interim local polls should be held for now to end the political vacuum at the grassroots.”

According to Shahi, the party district presidents also asked Koirala to suggest to the party president to seek extension of the commission for another two years and carry out local restructuring tasks through proper deliberations and consultations with all stakeholders.

Koirala said that he and the party district presidents would jointly meet NC chief Sher Bahadur Deuba and senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel among others and ask them to accept the meeting's conclusions on  interim local elections as the party's own position.

Earlier, lawmakers of NC in parliament had criticized the commission's proposal, saying it had run into opposition at the local level and that there were demands for at least 900 local units under the new structure.

At present, there are over 3,000 village development committees and over 200 municipalities in the country.

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