New poll date evokes mixed reaction

Some parties remain sceptical whether polls will be held; EC welcomes it

Kathmandu, January 11:

The government’s decision to hold the Constituent Assembly polls on April 10 has evoked mixed reaction from political parties and the Election Commission.

Members of the seven-party alliance (SPA) accredited the decision as “obvious”. The Election Commission also welcomed the decision.

However, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, Rastriya Janashakti Party (RJP) and the Nepal Sadbhavana Party said the government may not be able to hold the polls this time, too.

“This (the government decision) is a positive move and we are confident that the election will be held on schedule,” Nepali Congress vice-president Gopal Man Singh told this daily.

CP Mainali of the United Left Front termed the government decision “timely”. However, co-chairman of the Rastriya Janashakti Party Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani said fixing the date is not enough. “This government may not be able to hold the election on April 10 owing to current security situation,” he said.

Chairman of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party Pashupati SJB Rana welcomed the decision and suggested the government to address the issues of Madhesi, Janajaties and Dalits to ensure free, fair and timely polls. “Setting the date alone is not just enough,” he said.

MJF leader Kishore Biswas, however, said, “We are not excited. There will be no polls unless the government addresses the three demands of the Madhesi and Janajatis.” The three demands include immediate declaration of a republic, an electoral system based on all-out proportional representation, and a federal state with the right to self-determination.

Chairman of the RPP-Nepal Rabindra Nath Sharma said, “This decision has no meaning since the government has no intention of holding the polls.” Sharma asked, “If the government was really committed to holding the polls, why did it expand the cabinet yesterday?”

President of the Nepal Sadbhavana Party Rajendra Mahato said the government has announced yet another date for the election to postpone it for the third time. “Don’t expect that the polls will take place in Madhes unless the Madhesi people’s rights are guaranteed,” Mahato said.

Hridayesh Tripathi, leader of the recently formed Tarai Madhes Democratic Party, ridiculed the government for fixing the election date for the third time and said that merely setting the date for the election is meaningless. “What is important is creating a favourable environment

for the election by addressing the demands of the Madhesis, Janajatis and others,” Tripathi said.