KATHMANDU, MARCH 30: Ending confusion at the Election Commission (EC) over whether to begin preparations for holding the local elections in the Madhes districts also, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday urged the election body to complete the poll preparations in all 744 local units.
At a meeting with election commissioners held at Baluwatar Thursday, PM Dahal said it would be pointless to backtrack from conducting elections in all 744 local units, including those in the Madhes districts, on the stipulated poll date of May 14. "I thank you all for the hard work done so far in making the election plans a success. Proceed ahead in this fashion. The government wants to conduct polls across the country at one go," Dahal told the commissioners and also instructed them to remain prepared.
Dahal urged the election officials not to contemplate any plan B.
At the meeting, the election commissioners briefed the PM about poll preparations so far. Stating that the preparations have now reached the final stage, they said holding the polls will be easier if parties opposed to the polls are also brought on board the election process in time.
"We are on track in terms of holding the elections. It will be easier if the political disputes are settled on time," said Election Commissioner Ishwari Paudyal, who was also present at the meeting with the prime minister. Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav had reached the PM's residence at Baluwatar with a team of election commissioners and top election officials to apprise the government of progress made so far.
Even as election fever spreads to most parts of the country, the environment remains less enthusiastic in the tarai districts, especially in the eight districts of Province 2.
Of late, the EC has printed ballot papers for 51 districts, logistics are being procured, the government has already designated the chief returning offices and returning officers for the polling stations and deployed the workforce responsible for handling the elections, together with other staff. Except for six of the districts in Province 2, the polling stations have already been fixed across the country.
Technicians are working to finalize about 14 million voter names and print the voter ID cards.
Responding to concerns raised by the election commissioners, Dahal said he will try his best to forge consensus among the major political parties for bringing the agitating forces on board. "There is still a possibility of forging consensus and bringing them [agitating parties] on board. But we should conduct the election across the country on May 14 even if consensus eludes," said Dahal.
Asked if the EC would print the ballot papers even if the political parties do not manage to persuade the Madhes-based parties to come on board the election process, the commissioners said they will print the ballot papers for the districts of Province 2 also and conduct elections there as well.
Sources close to Dahal said the government is preparing to woo the agitating parties by again increasing the number of local units in the Madhes districts and endorsing the constitution amendment bill while putting the revision of provincial boundaries on hold for now.