It makes sense to reflect on the latest decision of the Election Commission (EC) to accept any other valid identity card in place of the citizenship certificate to be eligible to receive the voter’s identity card. It also has made it clear that the recommendation provided by the Village Development Committee (VDC) or municipality too would enable the individual concerned to acquire the voter’s identity card. It comes as to how the Election Commission came to this particular decision when it had made the citizenship certificate mandatory for registration for the new identity card. Going by all accounts the earlier stance of the EC was right in the sense that the citizenship certificate is the final evidence of a person being a bona fide Nepali citizen. And, that document automatically gives the person the right to be a voter in any election in Nepal. Under what circumstances EC decided to come up with the alternative arrangement is not understood. But, the protest against the mandatory presentation of the citizenship certificate for the voter’s identity card had been there in the Terai as well as nine districts of eastern Nepal. Their objection was that the citizenship certificate should not be the only valid document for registration as a voter. This is where opinions have come to loggerheads. In all sensible usage as regards the voting rights, not only in Nepal till the last election but in other countries as well, the citizenship certificate only gives the person the right to be a voter. Now, with the EC itself overturning its earlier logical and right decision, a very curious phenomenon seems to be unfolding.
In fact, there can be no compromise on the citizenship certificate being the supreme document for a person to be a legitimate voter. The VDCs and municipality being given the authority to recommend anyone for voter’s identity card, and the EC accepting that as valid gives a twist to the issue. It is true that not every Nepali citizen has been able to acquire the citizenship certificate because of various reasons, so the obvious way is for such persons to apply and get hold of a citizenship certificate that puts his/her claim to being a Nepali citizen officially. It is, however, another matter that the voter’s identity card registration should have been initiated after the constitution had been promulgated so that the constitutional provisions would have been the guidelines for the
distribution of citizenship certificates and registration as a genuine voter.
There are other crucial issues that also have to be taken up by EC. First, with the current round of registration for the voter’s identity card, those not in the country too would have to forfeit being a voter. What provision does EC have in this case? It has to clarify. Moreover, arrangements should be made for a voter who is out of his/her constituency at election time due to work or studies, within the country or abroad, or whatever reason, to be able to cast his ballot, otherwise his right to vote is snatched away. With all this in mind, EC should have been more resolute with its earlier decision rather than in inviting further controversy.
Tihar, also known as the festival of lights is observed with much fanfare and looked forward to. It is during this festival that the Goddess of Wealth is worshipped and sisters pray for the long life of their brothers. During Tihar, devotees partake of sweetmeats. By worshipping the Goddess of Wealth it is believed that she will bring wealth in abundance, and sisters praying for their brothers generates goodwill between the brothers and sisters. The festival of lights is also notorious for the use of fire crackers. Tihar sees particularly children playing with fire crackers. Although the authorities imposed a ban on playing with fire crackers on previous years, this is not enforced in practice as a result of which the use of fire crackers is widespread during Tihar.
Again this festival sees scarcity of items like sugar used to make sweetmeats. It is a challenge
for the authorities to stop black marketing of one or the other commodity the demand of which
reaches a peak during this festival time.Thus, in order that Tihar can be celebrated as it is meant to these need looking into.