Kathmandu, November 29
As many as 337 candidates, including 253 representing political parties and 84 independent, are contesting the by-elections being held tomorrow for 52 vacant posts of people’s representatives. Of the total 337 candidates, 253 are men and 84 are women.
The 52 vacant posts in 37 districts include one member of the House of Representatives, three provincial assembly members and 48 chiefs, deputy chiefs and ward chairs of local levels.
As per the Election Commission, a total of 11 political parties are contesting the HoR election, 15 are contesting provincial assembly elections and 20 parties are contesting local-level elections.
Election Commission Spokesperson Raj Kumar Shrestha said the EC had completed all preparations and was eagerly waiting for the by-elections to begin at 7:00am tomorrow. Polling will be conducted until 5:00pm. “The EC completed setting up elections booths today. The EC is all ready, and is confident the by-elections will be held successfully,” he said.
The EC said poll staffers had already reached polling centres and polling stations. There are 247 polling stations and 527 polling centres in 37 districts. A total of 5,364 government employees have been deployed for poll duty. The EC expects to complete the vote counting process within two days from the date of vote casting. A total of 454,114 people are eligible to vote in the by-elections.
There are 71,871 voters in Kaski HoR Constituency–2; 45,015 voters in Bhaktapur Provincial Assembly Constituency–1(A); 35,184 voters in Baglung Provincial Assembly Constituency–2(B); and 68,719 voters in Dang Provincial Assembly Constituency–3(B).
The districts where by-elections will be held are Panchthar, Bhojpur, Sunsari, Morang, Sankhuwasabha, Khotang, Saptari, Siraha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara, Parsa, Ramechhap, Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Chitwan, Lamjung, Kaski, Baglung, Nawalparasi (Bardaghat Susta East), Gulmi, Kapilvastu, Arghakhanchi, Pyuthan, Rolpa, Dang, Banke, Salyan, Humla, Bajura, Achham, Doti, Kanchanpur and Baitadi.
Security agencies have implemented integrated security strategy to help the EC hold elections peacefully.
Nepal Police Spokesperson DIG Bishwa Raj Pokhrel said security agencies had left no stone unturned to create peaceful environment for tomorrow’s by-elections. “We appeal all to be assured of security and exercise their right to vote without fear or intimidation,” he said.
Although the by-elections are being held for 52 posts, all eyes are on Kaski Constituency-2, which fell vacant after Rabindra Adhikari lost his life in a helicopter crash in February.
In the high-stakes Kaski HoR Constituency-2, the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has fielded Bidhya Bhattarai, wife of late Adhikari, while Khem Raj Paudel is contesting the elections representing the main opposition, Nepali Congress.
The constituency is expected to see stiff contest between NCP’s Bhattarai and NC’s Paudel as both the parties are under pressure to win the contest. For the NCP, the election is a measure to gauge the popularity of not only the party but also the government. So it wants to retain the seat.
On the other hand, the NC is expecting to cash in on ‘dwindling popularity’ of the NCP and government, and exhibit strong opposition presence.
A version of this article appears in print on November 30, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.