Solicits votes for Home Minister Thapa during silence period on eve of NA by-poll


Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today drew flak for violating the election code of conduct as he issued an appeal today soliciting votes for Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, who is contesting the National Assembly seat, during the silence period imposed by the Election Commission.

A total of 348 electorates – 110 Bagmati Provincial Assembly members and 238 chiefs and deputy chiefs of local levels - will elect one NA member from Bagmati province tomorrow.

The Election Commission issued a press release today, indirectly condemning the PM's appeal.

The EC stated in its release that despite its warning, some people have been issuing statements in violation of the election code of conduct. Some media outlets have also violated the poll code by projecting the winner and interviewing people, the EC stated in its release.

The poll panel warned that it could take action against individuals and institutions for violating the poll code.

Issuing an appeal on the eve of the NA by-election, Oli asked electorates to vote for Thapa, reasoning that his victory would boost the communist movement. Oli said party representatives, who had taken the oath to safeguard the party's interest, should not vote for anyone other than Thapa.

Though UML Secretary General Ishwar Pokharel has issued a whip and Oli has issued an appeal to vote for Thapa, the election won't be a cakewalk for the former Maoist leader.

Thapa had defected to the UML after the Supreme Court reinstated the House of Representatives.

Khim Lal Devkota, who is close to Madhav Kumar Nepal, is also vying for the seat and is expected to win the support of the UML's Nepal faction, as well as other opposition parties.

The Nepali Congress and the CPN-Maoist Centre have also condemned Oli for soliciting votes for Thapa during the silence period (three days before the election) and have urged the EC to take action against him.

NC Chief Whip Balkrishan Khand told mediapersons after the NC Parliamentary Party Working Committee meeting that the EC should punish those responsible for violating the poll code, no matter how powerful that person might be.

CPN-MC Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal also issued a press release condemning the PM's appeal. He said that the appeal issued by the prime minister during the silence period not only violated the poll code but also raised questions about the fairness of the by-election.

The by-election is being held as Thapa was expelled as lawmaker from the National Assembly on a complaint by CPN-MC. The CPN-MC had complained to the Parliament Secretariat that Thapa had defected to UML after the nullification of the unification between the CPN-MC and UML.

With the opposition parties fielding Devkota, both the candidates contesting the vacant Upper House seat from Bagmati Province will be from the ruling CPN-UML.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 20, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.