EC chief drops a hint about polls in two phases

EC chief’s remarks come at a time when there are talks in political circles about holding local level elections in two phases

Apr 14, 2017-Amid talks about holding local level elections in two phases, the chief election commissioner has hinted, for the first time, at the possibility, saying if the government comes up with a decision to that effect, the EC is ready to act accordingly. 

“It is up to the government to decide,” Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav told the Post, adding that the EC will act accordingly if the government formally decides to hold local polls in two phases. 

Discussions have been going on in political circles about holding local polls in two phases in view of the ongoing negotiations with the Madhes-based parties which have refused to participate in May 14 elections. 

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had proposed two-phase polls about two weeks ago during his meeting with the leaders of the Madhes-based parties. 

The government on Tuesday registered a new constitution amendment bill in the Parliament Secretariat, hoping that its fresh bid would bring the Madhes-based parties on board elections. But the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, the following day took a decision to boycott the elections, saying the new proposal introduced by the government “fails to address our demands”.

Earlier in the day, CEC Yadav told journalists in Biratnagar also that the EC “is ready to facilitate a political way out by agreeing to local polls in two phases”.

If elections indeed are held in two phases, it would be in line with the EC’s original proposal. Long before the government announced local elections for May 14, the EC had proposed two-phase polls—on May 15 and June 4. The basis of its proposal then, however, was more technical than political, as it was concerned about logistics—election materials and security among others. 

But, the government on February 20 announced single-phase elections for May 14 in view of the need to bring the budget on May 29, as per the constitutional provision, and its possible impact on polls. 

When the Post tried to confirm with an election commissioner about the possibility of two-phase polls, the official said the EC was not aware about it. 

On CEC Yadav’s statement, the official said the government “might have consulted him but we are not aware about it”. 

Published: 14-04-2017 08:05

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