Da Doo Ron Ron

The Interim Government (IG) has completed its 100 days in office. People may differ over the government’s strong and weak points, but the general opinion is that the law and order situation leaves a mighty lot to be desired, particularly in several districts of the Tarai where nearly a dozen outfits continue a reign of terror through wanton violence. In this connection, EC chief Bhoj Raj Pokharel was right in appealing to the political parties to create a better political atmosphere for the elections, and to the government to improve the security environment. He also said that even a day’s bandh or strike could affect electoral preparations. He told the committee that the EC has provided the government with the standards of security to be required for the polls. To make the elections free, fair and credible, a certain level of security environment is necessary.

All stakeholders are expected to make their utmost efforts to create ideal political conditions and law and order situation for the polls. But that said, those responsible for the elections cannot get away from their responsibility by citing a ‘poor’ security situation and by trying to pass the buck. Elections have been held elsewhere in the world in far more inhospitable security environs than what prevails in Nepal today. Nearer home, elections have been held, for instance, in Sri Lanka, in Afghanistan, and in certain Indian states, and also in Iraq, despite heavy security problems. The EC cannot escape, as previously, by declaring the polls impossible belatedly. Nor can the government — particularly the all-powerful Prime Minister. The people have given their mandate for holding the CA elections to the eight political parties, which, in turn, have reposed their full faith in Prime Minister Koirala, who has many times said in public that holding the CA polls was his prime responsibility. Therefore, if the present EC team felt that they were not in a position to conduct the polls for whatever reasons, they ought to make their assessment clear to the government and the people before it is too late, and offer, in all decency, to stand aside for the government to consider alternatives, because the eight-party government, not the EC office-bearers, is accountable to the people.

Now that November 22 has been set as the new date, doubts are being expressed about the elections being held on schedule. Only time will prove the doomsayers right or wrong. Many people have the impression that not-so-feeble designs are afoot to foil the CA polls. But it is for the eight parties, their government and all those concerned for the CA to be on the alert to defeat these designs. There is also the important question of holding the polls at one go or in phases. The government has made up its mind to finish the job in one day. As the current level of both police forces — armed and unarmed — is reported to be much below the strength needed for the elections and the security situation in the Tarai is far from satisfactory, it would be worthwhile to consider elections in phases, preferably two or three. Multi-phase elections are not a novelty in Nepal.