Demand to keep volunteers off poll booths

Lalitpur, March 18:

Even though the election candidates are committed to ensuring free and fair elections in the three constituencies in Lalitpur district, they are concerned about the parties’ plans to deploy youths to ‘volunteer’ at the polling booths.

Only legally authorised persons should be allowed to stay in the polling booths, said Raghuji Pant, an UML candidate from Constituency No 3.

“There is no need for volunteers from any political party in the election booths. Any effort to mobilise volunteers in the polling booths will ignite controversy,” he said.

“A political criticism made during the election campaign is acceptable, but any baseless non-political abuse is not tolerable,” he said.

Raj Kaji Maharjan, a Maoist candidate from Constituency No 2, however, disagreed with Pant’s idea. “The concept of 200 youths in each election booth has been raised to make youth volunteers in coordination with the law enforcing agencies to facilitate the election process,” he said.

“The pro-UML ANNFSU has also planned to mobilise 100 youths in each booth. So protesting against our concept of mobilising youth volunteers is not appropriate,” he said.

Lalitpur district election officer Kumar Pokharel said mobilisation of youths in a positive manner is acceptable, but there is no legal provision to let youth volunteers in the polling booths.

“Only a selected representatives appointed by each candidate, possessing proper identity cards, will be permitted to stay in polling booths,” said Pokhrel.

“The cost incurred during erasing graffitis and removing posters will be deducted

from the money deposited by each political party while filing candidacy for the election. As per the election code of conduct, the parties should register the vehicles they want to use during the election with the district election office,” he said.

Rabindra Jyakho, a Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party cadre said party workers are being threatened while going out for publicity programmes. He also demanded action against those violating the election code of conduct.