Party reps kept at bay as vote count begins

  • Officials say tight security in place to avoid re-run of Bharatpur-19 fiasco
  • Fenced off

Sep 20, 2017-

An incident at a vote counting centre in Bharatpur of Chitwan on May 28 seems to have changed the face of ballot enumeration, with many wondering whether “this new way of keeping the count” will now remain for good.

Wires used for building embankments have been installed to make fences around a conference room of the Mahendra Narayan Nidhi Memorial Hall in Janakpur, Dhanusha. Inside are election officials huddled over ballots collected from various polling centres. Political party representatives have been kept at bay, allowing them only to watch from outside the wired fences.

The set-up may look a bit weird, “but this arrangement has been put in place to secure the ballot papers,” said Dhanusha Chief District Officer Dilip Chapagain.

What happened in Bharatpur during the vote counting after the first phase of local elections is still fresh in everyone’s mind.

Two CPN (Maoist Centre) representatives on the night of May 28 had allegedly torn 90 ballot papers from Ward 19 when counting was underway. The CPN-UML’s Devi Gyawali was leading Maoist Centre’s Renu Dahal, the daughter of then prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. The incident had created a deep division between the parties, with the UML demanding immediate resumption of vote counting, while the Maoist Centre, along with its electoral alliance  Nepali Congress, pressing for a re-election.

After the Election Commission decision of re-polling was upheld by the Supreme Court, Bharatpur-19 voted again on August 4.

Election officials as well as security personnel now are taking extra measures in Province 2 so as to avert a similar incident.

The third and last leg of local polls were held in the eight districts of Province 2 on Monday.

Dhanusha SP Chakra Bahadur Singh said vote counting centres for the ballot papers for all 18 local units, including Janakpur Sub-Metropolitan City, have been well secured. Along with the wired fences, close-circuit TV cameras also have been fitted.

Despite widespread concerns, voting in all eight districts of Province 2 on Monday concluded peacefully without any serious incident of violence or scuffle.

“Polls were peaceful and there was no perceived threats to the extent that wired fences had to be installed. But we are just taking precautionary measures,” said CDO Chapagain. “We don’t want any untoward incident like the one we saw in the past.”

Wired fences have been built in almost all vote counting centres of Province 2.

Parsa Chief District Officer Humnath Parajuli said the vote counting centres have been well secured in such a way that party representatives cannot touch the ballot papers.

(With inputs from our Province 2 correspondents)

Published: 20-09-2017 08:21

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