Govt decides to dwell on LBRC report

Kathmandu, January 27

Although the Parliament is close to passing the three remaining election related bills, the government’s decision to own up the Local Bodies Restructuring Committee's report only after consulting political parties may make the government’s job of declaring poll dates in 4-5 days difficult. Today's Cabinet meeting decided to hold more discussions on LBRC's report.

CPN-UML leader Agni Kharel told THT that the government was backtracking on its commitment to hold civic polls. "If the government really wants to hold civic elections before May-end, it should not have sought more discussion on the LBRC report," he said.

He added that uncertainty on civic poll dates would also have adverse effect on the schedule of provincial and parliamentary elections. He said the report might have shortcomings but nobody should challenge the report prepared by a constitutional commission. It was a challenging task for LBRC to create 719 local bodies out of 3,900, he argued.

Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav told THT that the delay in endorsing the LBRC's report was a matter of concern for the EC. "But we can prepare for polls if the LBRC report is accepted  within four-five days and dates for the polls are declared within five days," he added. Election Commissioner Ila Sharma said the implementation of LBRC report was a must for holding civic elections. "We need to have clear idea on the number of voters and boundary of each local body," she added. The LBRC submitted its report a few weeks ago recommending creation of 719 local bodies. The report is being opposed by all parties in all regions — mountains, hills and the Tarai.

Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ajay Shankar Nayak, however, claimed that the government would accept the LBRC's report within five days. 'We'll take five days to address the concerns of Madhesi parties who are opposed to the report," he added. He said the EC needed to have at least 100 days to prepare for polls and if the government announced the dates and accepted the report in the next five days, the EC would still have 115 days.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had said that he would announce poll dates before January 28. He also said that he would propose a supplementary constitution amendment bill to address Madhesis' concerns.

The Parliament has passed two election related bills and has completed discussion on three remaining bills. It is likely to pass the bill related to Election Offences and Punishment on Monday.

A sub-committee of the State Affairs Committee has finished the clause-wise discussion on bill on civic polls. Only the bill relating to political parties remains to be finalised. The parliamentary panel is yet to iron out differences on the threshold of number of votes for a party to ensure a seat in the House. "We will resolve the issue by Monday," SAC member Gangalal Tuladhar said.

The commissioners of EC are arguing that mere election related laws will not be enough to announce poll dates.