‘Stress geography for poll constituencies’

Dhangadi, July 31

Stakeholders in Provice 7 have suggested that geography be taken as the major determining factor while demarcating electoral constituencies.

Speaking at a province-level programme organised by Electoral Constituency Determination Commission in Dhangadi today, local civil society leaders and leaders of political parties accused the commission of holding discussions on the issue at the expense of geographical factors.

“If you ignore the geographical factor while creating constituencies, it will affect development in the hills,” argued Rastriya Janamorcha leader Lachhiram Acharya. “As a few representatives will be elected, the hills will get less budget, which means less development, less roads, less health posts, and you name it.”

Shailya Shikhar Municipality Chief Amarsingh Dhami observed that the issue deserves serious consideration in view of its far-reaching implications. “As the electoral constituencies now devised will last for 20 years, it entails detailed study and discussions at all levels,” he argued, while legal professional Prem Bahadur Chand feared the idea of forming electoral constituencies on the basis of population would lead to imbalance of population distribution.

Similarly, Chief District Officer Govind Rijal of Kailali also expressed apprehensions about the possibility of the hills losing its population to the plains should electoral constituencies be formed on the basis of geographical factors solely.

“As carving out poll constituencies by taking into account population factor alone could be too one sided, I think we need to also see geographical and cluster factors to do it right,” he said.

On his part, ECDC joint secretary Narayan Regmi said the suggestions thus collected would be submitted to the commission.

As of now, the province has a total of 21 parliamentary electoral constituencies: one each in Bajura, Darchula and Dadeldhura, two each in Achham, Bajhang, Doti and Baitadi, and four and six in Kanchanpur and Kailali respectively.

If electoral constituencies are to be formed by taking into account geographical factors alone, all but one district in the hills will have only one constituency. Other districts too will have less number of constituencies.

As per the commission, one parliamentary electoral constituency will be equal to two provincial electoral constituencies.

The reduced electoral constituencies for the purpose of parliamentary elections will thus also reduce the number of electoral constituencies for provincial elections in the hills in the province.