PM proposes holding provincial, parliamentary polls simultaneously

Published On: July 28, 2017 03:30 AM NPT By: Bhadra Sharma

KATMANDU, July 27: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has proposed with the Election Commission (EC) to conduct both the provincial and central parliamentary elections simultaneously citing time constraints. The prime minister's remark comes as just six months remain for conducting both the elections.
In a meeting with election commissioners Thursday, Prime Minister Deuba sought the election body's view on his proposal. "He [prime minister] asked the election commissioners if it was possible to conduct both the elections simultaneously. Election commissioners said they need to discuss the proposal at their board meeting," said the prime minister's press advisor Govinda Pariyar. 

Expressing concerns over the high invalid vote percentage in the recent local elections, the prime minister asked the EC if this could happen again if the two elections were held separately. "He wanted clarity from the election body so that the high percentage of invalid votes could be reduced," Pariyar said.

Invalid vote percentage stood at up to 23 percent in some local units despite huge budget channelized to district offices for educating voters on how to cast error-free vote. 

Commissioner Dahal, however, informed that the EC outright rejected the prime minister's proposal. "It will be difficult to conduct two different elections side by side. We have enough time to conduct these elections separately," said commissioner Dahal stressing on the need for fixing poll dates and clearing poll hurdles without further delay. 

Former election commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety said if the EC wants then both the elections can be conducted simultaneously. "It will also reduce election cost and save time," said Uprety.

Durinig Thursday's meeting election commissioners urged the prime minister to clear legal and administrative hurdles and set dates for provincial and parliamentary elections at the earliest. 

Informed sources privy to meeting said it may take seven to ten days to pass election-related laws which are currently stuck in parliament. And it is not clear when will the Constituency Delineation Commission, the body mandated to finalize constituencies, will complete its work. The commission was formed last week and has been given 21 days to complete the work. 

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