PM to take poll date proposal to Cabinet

Prime Minister Dahal has asked the Election Commission to propose ‘final’ date/s for local elections by today so that he could take a proposal of announcing the poll dates to the Cabinet tomorrow - Ila Sharma, election commissioner

Feb 18, 2017-Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Friday told Election Commission (EC) officials that he would take a proposal of announcing local level election dates to the Cabinet on Sunday.

Election Commissioner Ila Sharma told the Post that PM Dahal asked the EC to propose “final” date/s for holding local elections on Saturday and that he would take the proposal to the Cabinet on Sunday accordingly. 

Earlier on Wednesday, PM Dahal had assured Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav that the government would announce the dates for local level elections by Sunday. 

The EC on February 6, in its response to a government letter, had proposed local level elections in two phases—May 15 and June 4. “As these dates are tentative, the prime minister has asked us to propose final date/s,” said Sharma. The EC, with three more commissioners already appointed, will hold an internal meeting on Saturday and propose the final date/s, according Sharma. 

PM Dahal, who is under pressure to announce poll dates, however, has many an issue to address.

The Madhes-based parties have announced that they will not participate in the elections until the constitution amendment bill is endorsed in Parliament. Some leaders of the Madhes-based parties have even warned that they will launch protests the day the government announces the poll dates. Implementation of the report of the Local Level Restructuring Commission is yet another herculean task, especially in view of the Madhes-based parties’ objection to it. 

Though a ministerial taskforce has suggested that number of local units can be increased in eight districts of Province 2, it has stopped short of saying how many units can be added. Going by the earlier ceiling fixed by the LLRC, the number of local units cannot exceed 744, and it is most likely  that the government, if it decides to tweak the numbers, will add 25 units in Province 2.

The Madhes-based parties had earlier hinted that they would accept the LLRC report only if 100 more units are added in Province 2. 

Of the 719 local units recommended by the LLRC in its report for the federal set-up, 34 percent, or 236 local units, fall in the Tarai region.

If 25 more units are added in Province 2, it will have 36 percent of total number of local units recommended across the country by the LLRC.

It is unclear whether the Madhes-based parties would accept the LLRC report if it comes with a revision adding 25 local units in Province 2. 

And then there is the main opposition CPN-UML.  

His earlier announcement on January 23 that he will declare poll dates by January 28 failed to materialise, making the CPN-UML more suspicious than ever. Besides, the UML has long been demanding that the government should withdraw the constitution amendment bill. 

Amid all this, Friday’s meeting between PM Dahal and the entire team of the election commissioners comes as one step forward towards elections. 

During Friday’s meeting, held at Baluwatar, PM Dahal enquired about the resources and materials required for holding the elections and asked the EC officials to submit details. 

“The prime minister has promised that the government will make all the arrangements for holding the elections,” said Sharma. 

Published: 18-02-2017 07:55

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