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EC investigates into Budhanilkantha voter registration dispute

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 21, 2017-After CPN-UML local leaders and Election Commission (EC) officials were caught registering new voters at the house of a UML leader on Saturday night in Budhanilkantha Municipality, other parties have padlocked the municipality office on Sunday.

The voter registration process had concluded at the municipality office at around 6.30pm on Saturday, the final day set by the EC.

But the registration continued at the house of Deepak Niraula, chief of municipal committee of the UML, where a ward chairperson, a ward member elected from the UML and two other staffers deployed by the EC for the purpose, had attended, according to EC and municipality officials.

“Cadres of other parties caught them red-handed and handed them over to police on Saturday night. The next day, the protesting parties padlocked the municipality office,” said a municipality official. 

Other parties blamed the UML of conspiring to register more party supporters to influence the upcoming elections. UML candidates Uddhav Pasad Kharel and Rama Devi Rai were elected mayor and deputy mayor of Budhanilkantha Municipality in the local elections held on May 14. 

The EC had recruited two locals—Aaktrit Khatri and another one, having knowledge of photography and laptop operation, for the registration campaign—on the recommendation of the municipality. The municipality had mobilised its own staff—Raj Kumar Bhandari—to assist the process but he was not present at Niraula’s house at the time the registration was taking place, according to the municipality official.

The incident has surfaced at a time when the UML has gained a moral high ground despite losing the mayoral race to the CPN (Maoist Centre) in Bharatpur Metropolitan City following a re-election in Ward 19 earlier this month. Maoist Centre cadres had torn the ballot papers on May 28 forcing reelection as per the Supreme Court verdict on August 4.

Lawmakers also raised the issue at the parliamentary session on Sunday. NC leader Gagan Thapa demanded action against Mayor Kharel and the staff deployed by the EC, while blaming the UML of smearing the credibility of the poll body.

Chandra Prasad Gautam, under secretary at the District Election Office, Kathmandu, said that they were very saddened by the incident that allegedly took place after the voter registration was formally closed at around 6.30pm on the last day of the process. The Kathmandu Election Office is investigating the incident.

Election Commissioner Narendra Dahal said they had put on hold remuneration of those staffers mobilised for the registration process. “We have been reported that not many new names have been registered but the method adopted was wrong,” he said.

Published: 21-08-2017 07:54

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