EC appears softer towards govt on poll code violation

  • Additional cash to conflict victims
  • Former commissioners say govt decision untimely

Mar 14, 2017-The Election Commission appears to be softer towards the government’s recent activities that could undermine the Election Code of Conduct that came into force on March 1.

Going against the code that bars the government from introducing or approving new policies or programmes, the Cabinet on Wednesday decided to provide additional compensation of Rs 500,000 each to the families of those killed and disappeared during the decade-long conflict, according to sources at the Prime Minister’s Office and the Peace and Reconstruction Ministry.

As per the code, the government, public institutions and local bodies cannot announce new plans and programmes; approve, operate and mobilise human and financial resources for such programmes except for those incorporated in the fiscal budget.

Election Commissioner Sudhir Shah, who oversees matters related to the code of conduct, said the Cabinet decision may not have breached the code as it was about implementation of a policy already announced by the prime minister. “But there can be different interpretations as per the letter and spirit of the code of conduct. I will be able to say for sure about it after taking details from the government,” he told the Post.

The government’s decision, which is based on PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s announcement in Parliament on September 8, 2016, will cost the state coffers more than Rs10 billion.

Former chief election commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety said the Cabinet decision breaches the code of conduct. “Providing benefits and rewards two months before the elections and when the code has already been enforced could influence the elections,” he said. Uprety wondered why the government had waited so long to provide the compensation. “The Cabinet decision should not be implemented until the local elections are over,” he said.

Surya Prasad Shrestha, chairperson of the Nepal Election Observation Committee, termed the decision untimely even if it were a genuine move.

On March 3, the EC allowed PM Dahal to use a Nepal Army helicopter to reach Kavre for a party function, two days after the election body told ministers that chopper use had been banned for election campaigns.

The EC issued a statement on March 5, saying that the PM could use a helicopter obtained from the private sector for political programmes with the EC’s permission except in poll campaigns.

In the run-up to the CA elections of 2013, Dahal was one of the politicians who had most number of chopper rides after Ek Nath Dhakal, chairman of Nepal Pariwar Dal.


‘Preparations in final stage’



Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav has said the Election Commission’s preparations for the local level elections scheduled for May 14 are in the final stage.

Stating that the EC was accelerating technical works related to the polls, Yadav said, “The EC is reviewing voting centres, managing ballot papers and is in the final stage of publishing voter lists.”

“We have also instructed the government to mobilise officers and staff in the respective local units before March 16,” he said, adding that the election authority had got all the materials and laws to speed up the preparations.

He also asked the political parties to help create an election-friendly environment across the country since the EC was mobilising its resources to hold three elections in a short span of time.

“Polls are to be held at all the 744 local bodies on a single day. It is, therefore, the government’s duty to conduct polling across the country including the Tarai by building consensus with the Madhes-based parties.”

Published: 14-03-2017 09:12

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