Govt to intensify parleys to ensure local elections

- Post Report, Kathmandu
PM Dahal is under pressure with the Madhes-based parties refusing to budge from their stance and the UML turning up the heat

Feb 5, 2017-Local level elections are inevitable, and the government is going to hold a series of talks with the Madhes-based parties and the CPN-UML with an aim to declare poll dates as soon as possible, a close aide to prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said on Saturday. 

“If the parties are ready to go for polls even without the consent of the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM), they should unite and ensure elections along the southern plains despite the Morcha’s objection,” said Chakrapani Khanal, chief political adviser to PM Dahal, in an oblique reference to plans to go for elections—even without the Morcha. Indignant at being the object of neglect, the SLMM, an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, has been repeatedly saying that it won’t allow elections to happen in the Tarai. 

PM Dahal on Friday invited top leaders of the SLMM to apprise them of the need to write to the Election Commission to start preparations for polls and urge them not to be suspicious about the government move. 

The government decision to write to the EC asking the poll body to start preparations for polls has but annoyed Madhesi leaders no end. The Madhesi leaders have long been saying that the government first revise the constitution amendment bill and get it endorsed before elections.

For PM Dahal, time is running out. The main opposition has turned up the heat on the government to withdraw the constitution amendment bill and declare dates for local elections. Failing to hold local level elections on time could hamper other two levels elections—provincial and federal. As per the constitutional deadline, three elections must be held by January 21 next year. 

Some Maoist Centre leaders claimed that the Morcha’s strategy now will be foiling the elections as it knows the amendment bill cannot be endorsed without the UML’s support. All the parties, hence, should unite and push for elections even if the Morcha refuses to participate, they said, stopping short of explaining how that move would resolve the crisis facing the country. They would not say whether PM Dahal is ready to make that move. 

Dahal was elected prime minister in August with the backing of the Morcha after his promise that the new government under him would amend the constitution to address the Madhes concern.  

In the last six months, Morcha leaders say, PM Dahal’s actions have not been that encouraging. The government has done precious little to ensure two-thirds majority in Parliament to get the amendment bill endorsed, they allege. 

Any move to drive the Madhes-based parties into a corner will entail adverse consequences, they have warned. 

PM Dahal’s political adviser Khanal, however, insisted that the government has no intentions of leaving the Morcha behind.

Published: 05-02-2017 07:54

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