KMC counting chickens before they’ve hatched

Kathmandu, February 5:

In a bizarre move, Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) today organised a “welcome and reception programme” for the unopposed elected ward chairmen and members, long before the civic election takes place — only to call it off hastily at the last minute without any reason.

The reception was meant to felicitate 16 ward chairmen and members of 35 wards, who were announced elected unopposed as nobody else filed his/her candidacy for those posts. Around 69 of a total 177 posts of chairmen and members were declared filled by candidates elected unopposed.

To the chagrin of the invitees, the programme was announced postponed when they and other guests reached the KMC office after trudging long distances on the first day of the Maoist-called weeklong nationwide bandh.

“It is flabbergasting. We came here because we had been invited. After we reached here, the staffers said there is no such programme,” said one ward chairman who is yet to take oath of office.

To cut a long story short, in view of the refreshments at hand the staffers and the guests fell to and made short work of these — never mind that no reception was held.

According to KMC sources, the minister for local development Tanka Dhakal was scheduled to address the programme. “It was scheduled for 3.00 pm but after a meeting held by the KMC chief executive officer, it was declared postponed at 2.45 pm,” said a KMC staffer, adding that the programme was coordinated by the ministry itself and the buzz was that it would be a gala affair, what with a large number of guests. The programme has now been rescheduled for Monday afternoon.

Talking to this daily, CEO of KMC, Padma Raj Regmi, said the programme had not been decided formally and so it was cancelled in the same manner. “It was not a formal programme. We just wanted to welcome the would-be ward chairmen and members,” he said.

When asked why KMC could not wait till the mayor, deputy mayor and other contesting candidates are elected, Regmi retorted: “There is no such rule. We can either hold it now or later. Maybe even, not hold this programme at all.” He gave no reason why the programme was postponed.

Spokesperson for the Election Commission, Tej Muni Bajracharya found it difficult to comment on the matter. “I do not know about it. But I think one should not act in haste. It would be better if they wait till the election as well as the oath-taking ceremony get over,” he said.