NC, UML register proposals to amend poll-related bills

Kathmandu, October 7

Top leaders of the Nepali Congress today decided to register amendment proposal on election related bills, proposing a three per cent vote-threshold for a party to make it to the Parliament and restricting two or more parties from contesting elections with the same symbol.

The committee also decided to seek removal of the provisions in the bill that intended to place restrictions on political parties, said NC lawmaker Radheshyam Adhikari, who attended the meeting.

He said the bill’s proposal to disqualify political parties from contesting elections for six years for incurring illegal expenses was too harsh.

“Political parties have won freedom after a long battle and therefore there should not be such restrictions on parties,” Adhikari added.

CPN-Maoist Centre lawmaker Ram Narayan Bidari said there were other laws that could regulate the activities of political parties and hence there should not be additional restriction on the parties.

After NC leaders’ decision, Nepali Congress Chief Whip Chin Kaji Shrestha, NC lawmakers Radheshyam Adhikari, Minendra Rijal and Sanjay Kumar Gautam moved amendment proposals on the election-related bills.

Adhikari said NC leaders had discussed the issue with CPN-UML lawmakers yesterday and they too agreed that there should be three per cent vote-threshold for a party to make it to the Parliament. Adhikari said his party was consulting CPN-MC leaders in an attempt to forge a common stance among the major parties.

Adhikari said the NC and the UML differed on the number of signatures required to open a new party. He said the UML was for submission of signatures of 10,000 voters and NC was for 5,000 voters’ signatures. “We are open to debate in the House and ready to modify our proposal if parties agree on it,” Adhikari added.

UML Chief Whip Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal said his party wanted political parties to win at least one first-past-the-post seat or three per cent of the valid votes in order to be recognised political parties.

CPN-MC lawmaker Bidari, who moved amendment proposal yesterday, said his party was silent on the vote-threshold because the bill was prepared with the consent of his party.

NC lawmaker Adhikari said party leaders were of the view that having a threshold in an election system where there was a component of proportional election system was necessary.

“Countries with PR system have accepted threshold provision,” Adhikari said and added that threshold of three per cent would help like-minded parties to unify and would also encourage parties to forge pre-poll alliance which would be good for ensuring political stability.

Deadline for registering amendment proposal on the three election related bills ended today.

According to Sudarshan Kuikel, assistant spokesperson, Parliament Secretariat, 67 amendment proposals were registered on three elections-related bills. Kuikel said the House was likely to send the bills to parliamentary panel for clause-wise discussion.