Poll symbol rule riles fringe forces

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Feb 26, 2017-

Those political parties which are not represented in the incumbent Parliament but wish to participate in local level elections set for May 14 will have only 10 days for campaigning, as per the poll scheduled unveiled by the Election Commission, and this has riled fringe forces. 

The Local Level Election Procedure Act guarantees electoral symbols for only those parties which are currently represented in Parliament. There are 29 parties in Parliament now.

As per the election scheduled made public by the EC on Wednesday, electoral symbols will be allotted to parties on May 2. Since there will be 48-hour election silence, campaigning can be carried out only till May 12, which will leave those parties which get their electoral symbols on May 2 with only 10 days for canvassing. Those who will be affected are parties not represented in Parliament, newly established political forces and independent candidates.

“Law has not guaranteed existing electoral symbols for parties not represented in Parliament,” said EC Spokesperson Surya Sharma.

Lawmakers had inserted this provision after the EC expressed its concern that electoral symbols of all the parties could not be accommodated on ballot papers because of size constraints. The Janak Education Materials Centre can print only a 38-inch (96.52-cm) long ballot paper. If all the parties were to be accommodated, each ballot paper could be up to four-metre long, according to the EC. 

Fringe parties have objected to the provision. 

“It is illogical to deny a party an election symbol on the grounds that ballot papers will be very long,” said Akhanda Nepal Party Chairman Kumar Khadka, who is also minister for women, children and social welfare in the incumbent government. Motilal Bharati, president of Nepal Samabeshi Party, which is not represented in Parliament, said: “We would be forced to move the court if we are not given the electoral symbol with which we had contested the second Constituent Assembly elections.” His party was given parrot the electoral symbol in 2013 elections. “This is a discriminatory provision.”

Published: 26-02-2017 07:46

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