Bandh not necessary to scuttle polls, say leaders

Kathmandu, February 5:

Leaders of the seven-party alliance said today calling a week-long general strike aimed at foiling the election is an unnecessary step because the election programme has already failed.

Dilendra Badu of Nepali Congress said participation of voters in the civic polls, called by the King himself, could have been scanty without calling of the week-long strike.

“The bandh is a part of the programmes of the Maoists. It was decided long time ago that both the Maoists and the alliance of seven parties would protest against the election independently,” he said.

Pro-CPN-UML Prof Mangal Siddhi Manandhar also said there was no need to call a bandh when the election programme had already failed.

“The election bears no meaning when it becomes difficult even to find candidates for seats and even those elected unopposed are resigning or withdrawing their nominations. The week-long bandh was not necessary to protest the polls,” he said, adding that the organisers could now shorten the strike duration.

According to him, the election is only a conspiracy of the King’s government to create an impression to the world that the regime is democratic.

Manamohan Bhattarai of NC-D said election failed more due to people’s indifference than the threats of the Maoists. “It is a kind of non-essential rebellion. Since the motive of the bandh has already been fulfilled, the Maoists should not continue it for a whole week,” he said, adding that it could be a one-day bandh, for a symbolic protest.

He also said the bandh is not going to affect the pro-election parties, but it might affect those who want to boycott it.

Human rights activist Kapil Shrestha said the home minister’s statement that rights activists are playing the roles of political parties is baseless. “How can we support the government when hundreds of politicians are arrested and they are not denied food or water? This government has come to a constitutional and moral crisis,” he said. He also said the King should bring the country back to the right track.

Meanwhile, in a separate programme organised by Nepal Press Club here today, human rights activists labelled the upcoming municipal elections a farce and said majority of the people are against it.

Subodh Pyakurel, chairman of the Informal Sector Service Centre, said the King does not have the right to assume executive power.

Critisising the government for thwarting pre-paid mobile phones connection citing security reasons, Pyakurel said: “The government should perhaps destroy roads since the Maoists use them and dismantle hospitals because the Maoists seek treatment there.”

He added democracy is a must to attain ever lasting peace in the country.

“How can elections be possible in the absence of security?” questioned Dr Sundar Mani Dixit, representative of the civil society. “Shouldn’t the voices of the sea of people that have taken to the streets be heard?” he questioned.

“The government is scheming to hold unopposed elections in the name of democracy,” said Dixit.

12 candidates withdraw candidacy

Biratnagar: On Sunday 12 candidates announced they would not participate in the polls.

In the press release issued on Saturday the five ward chairmen and other members announced their withdrawal. Those withdrawing from the poll fray include candidates for the ward chairman of 13, Omkumar Lal and Sharadanant Das, Ramkumar Sunar of ward no 19, Rambahadur Khatri of ward no 8 and Hariprasad Dahal of ward no 6.

Ward members withdrawing the poll fray include Amarlal Shah, Shivkumar Shah, Shyam Pandey, Sanjay Shah, Indu Bhagat, Amavati Rajbanshi and Amritkumar Mahato. — HNS