All Eyes On Second Phase Poll

 

Uttam Maharjan

The first phase of the local poll took place peacefully on May 14, barring some sporadic incidents. Before the poll, the Madhes-based parties were threatening to disrupt them. However, with an understanding between the government and them, it was agreed to address their demands after the first phase of the poll. However, some sections of the Madhes-based parties opposed the understanding; not but what, the poll went off smoothly.

Threats

Now the people are eagerly awaiting the second phase of the poll slated for June 14. However, the Federal Alliance has warned that they will disrupt the second phase of the poll if their demands are not addressed. It may be recalled that their demands are couched in the constitution amendment bill, which has been on hold in Parliament.

One of their demands is to increase the number of local units. This demand is quite incongruous when the date has been announced for the second phase of the poll. It would have been much better if the local poll had been held at one go on May 14. With the conclusion of the first phase of the poll, vote counting is on and it might affect the outcome of the June 14 poll. Further, the budget for the fiscal year 2073/074 is also coming out on May 29. The budget may also influence the poll because it is being unveiled by the ruling coalition of the Nepali Congress and the CPN-Maoist Centre, and they might include populist, rabble-rousing contents in the budget to tilt the outcome of the poll in their favour.

The decision to hold the poll one month apart may be governed by the desire of the Madhes-based parties to do something in between. As is obvious, local units are being increased in the provinces where the second phase of the poll is being held. It is also suspected that some voters may be added to the voters’ list to turn the scales in favour of the Madhesi parties. Such activities, if they ever occur after the date for the poll has been announced, should be deemed illegal as they may influence the outcome of the poll.

The Federal Alliance is still insistent on having their demands fulfilled even as the first phase of the poll has been concluded. They have even decided to go for protests aimed at disrupting the second phase of the poll should their demands be not fulfilled.

It seems the Federal Alliance is guided by the Indian establishment. The leaders of the Alliance frequently visit the Indian Embassy to hold consultations on their demands. Even leaders of the mainstream parties tend to seek counsel from the Indian establishment on internal matters of the country. This has vitiated the position of the country vis-à-vis other countries.

The country is sovereign and independent and has never passed under the colonial yoke. The country has powers of self-determination and is capable of managing and resolving its internal matters. This being the case, it would not be judicious to seek suggestions from other countries to sort out internal matters.

The Federal Alliance should keep in mind that they should work for the common good of the country and the people and that treating the hills and the Terai separately is against the spirit of the concept of balanced development. There is even lopsided development in the three regions (mountainous, hilly and Terai) of the country despite the concept of planned development that originated in 2013 B.S. Now the country has stepped into the federal setup and the election to the local poll have also been concluded in the first phase. The country is now bracing for the second phase of the poll. In such a situation, all should cooperate with the government to successfully conclude the remaining poll rather than try to disrupt it.

The successful conclusion of the first phase poll on May 14 has got a message across to the nation that the people are enthusiastic about choosing their  representatives in the local bodies, which have been run by government employees for the last 15 years. The waves of enthusiasm shown in the first-phase poll have shown that the second phase of the poll will also conclude on an enthusiastic and zestful note.

After the second-phase poll, the country should prepare for the provincial and federal elections to be held by January of 2018, when the tenure of the Legislature-Parliament comes to an end. It may not be reiterated that the conclusion of the local poll will set the stage for the conducting of the provincial and federal elections and end the transition which has been lingering in the country for years.

It has already been too late to effectuate the transition of the existing governing system of the country to a federal dispensation. After the federal system comes into effect, development plans need to be formulated anew as the structure of the governing system will be diametrically different from the loktantrik system. There will be three layers of government: federal/central, provincial and local. The budgets will have to be earmarked for each level of government. Development plans and projects will have to formulated and carried out at local, provincial and federal levels.

Challenges

So the country will have daunting challenges to face after it has adopted the full-fledged federal system. To make the federal system viable and sustainable, all political and non-political forces should act in synergy. Here, the role of the political parties will be more than pronounced. So the Federal Alliance should also give a helping hand to the government in conducting the second phase of the poll and should not disrupt it on the pretext that their demands have not been fulfilled by the government.

The statute is a national charter mapping out, among others, the rights of the people and the executive, legislative and judiciary functions underpinning the administration and governance of the country. It is not a monolithic charter. Its provisions, except some fundamental ones, can be revised keeping abreast with the changing times. So it would be a mistake to think that whatever provision is enshrined in the statue will hold forever. The Federal Alliance should realise this fact. Therefore, the need of the hour is to conclude the second phase of the poll with the same zeal and enthusiasm as shown in the first phase of the poll.

    

 

 

 

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