Shaken up

  • Deuba govt should take stronger position to stop violent attacks against political campaigns

Nov 20, 2017-

The recent spate of attacks on candidates should be a matter of serious concern. As of Saturday, there have been over a dozen bomb attacks on candidates across the country. The government and security officials need to step up their game; there is absolutely no excuse for laxity.

The incidence of violence has increased, and the latest candidate whose vehicle has been attacked with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) is senior Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel. 

Both political leaders, their supporters and even children have been injured in such attacks. An explosion at the Radha Krishna temple in Chandrapur, Rautahat left eight people, including a child, injured. With security officials drawing a blank, other than pointing to the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal, growing incidents of violent attacks have emerged as a challenge to the upcoming provincial and federal polls slated for November 26 and December 7.  Here’s something that is disturbing, however. Police and local officials on the one hand claim that the Chand group has been involved in these assaults; on the other, they have still let many of the cadres and leaders walk free in such flashpoints as Kailali, Rukum and Rolpa.

Police officials say that the government has not mobilised enough funds and security personnel to effectively manage the heightened security issues. This, they say, has led to compromises in preparations for the elections. The effects of these compromises have been seen clearly in the districts and communities that have a strong presence of forces opposing elections, especially the Chand outfit. 

The period until the elections are over remains crucial for the parties and candidates to campaign without fear of violence; the voters should also feel free to attend political rallies without fear of violence. The voters will carry this perception from the run-up to the election day and any sense of unease could lead to a lower turnout, or certain constuencies voting for or against certain candidates because of the fear of reprisal. 

The fact that the country doesn’t have a dedicated home minister at the moment cannot be overlooked. Prime Minister Deuba, who has doubled up as home minister after removing Maoist leader Janardhan Sharma from the office and making him a ‘minister without portfolio’, has not visited the Home Ministry one single time to consult with the officials there. Yes, Prime Minister Deuba has made multiple remarks about the security situation but that is different from sitting down with security and government officials, listening to them, and mapping the plan of action, especially for sensitive districts.

The value of the current elections can’t be overstressed. The country is holding the provincial elections for the first time; this and the election to the federal parliament will effectively mark the end of a political transition that started in 2006. This is a major step towards achieving a federal democratic republic, as enshrined in the new constitution. 

Published: 20-11-2017 07:27

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