Voters’ turnout low compared to last elections

Pokhara/Sunsari, Nov 30

Compared to the last election, fewer votes were cast in this by-election in Kaski-2 and Sunsari’s Dharan Sub-metropolis.

Kaski-2, where the by-election will choose a member of the House of Representatives, witnessed 65 per cent votes cast this time, down from the 68 per cent during the last election.

Total number of voters in the constituency stood at 71,871 this time, up by 1,220 since the last election.

Around 46,000 votes were cast this time. Total votes cast in the previous election was 49,913 with 1,464 declared invalid.

Kaski-2 comprises 11 wards and had 32 polling booths and 82 voting centres. Baring some incidents of bombs going off and disputes at some booths, the election was largely peaceful.

With the conclusion of voting, ballot boxes were collected and taken to Pokhara’s Sahidchowk-based District Coordination Committee Office.

According to sources at the District Election Office, vote counting will start from 8:00 pm today itself.

A total of 21 candidates, including 10 independents, have thrown their hat into the ring in the constituency.

However, the main contest is expected to be between the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) candidate Bidhya Bhattarai and Nepali Congress candidate Khemraj Poudel.

The by-election was necessitated due to the death of Rabindra Adhikari, a CPN-UML leader elected as a parliamentary member from here in the last election.

He died in a helicopter crash in Taplejung. NCP candidate Bhattarai is the late leader’s spouse.

In Sunsari’s Dharan sub-metropolis, voters’ turnout to pick the mayor and a ward chairperson stood at 59.25 per cent, down from 67.86 during the previous election.

According to Election Officer Radhakrishna Upreti, some 92,853 voters were registered for the by-election this time.

“There were total 79,290 registered voters in the last election. Among them 53,812 had cast their ballots. This time the registered voters’ number stood at 92,853 and out of them 55,163 voters cast their ballot,” said sources at the district election office.

Sources at the election office informed about preparations to start vote counting from 10:00pm.

“As the ballot boxes have been collected at the office of the chief election officer, the counting is likely to start

from 10:00pm following an all-party meeting,” said a staffer at the office.

As many as 23 candidates, including 11 independents, are fighting for the post of mayor that has remained vacant following the death of Tara Subba, elected as mayor representing then CPN-UML in the last election.

NC candidate Tilak Rai and NCP candidate Prakash Rai are set to have a major battle for the position.