The beauty of democracy is swift and peaceful transfer of power to the party winning the people’s mandate
It has been almost a month since the second phase of parliamentary and provincial elections were held on December 7. The Election Commission (EC) has also made public the results of the proportional representation (PR) elections for the provinces. The first meeting of all the provincial assemblies should be held at the earliest after the allocation of PR seats to the political parties which have met the constitutional 1.5 percent threshold at the provincial level. President Bidya Devi Bhandari has recently authenticated the ordinance to elect the National Assembly members through the single transferable vote system, an issue which was the bone of contention between the ruling Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, which is poised to lead the new government under the left alliance. However, the EC is dilly-dallying in making adequate preparations for holding the election of the 59-member National Assembly. Eight members — three women, one Dalit and one person with disability or from the minority community and three others — will be elected from each of the provinces. The EC has been arguing that the PR results of federal parliament elections cannot be published without holding the National Assembly election to ensure at least 33 per cent representation of women in the bicameral parliament. Going by the constitutional provision, there will be over 37 percent women representation in the Upper House.
The EC’s argument that it needs an Act to elect the National Assembly members was valid till the president issued the ordinance forwarded by the government. As the president has already issued it, the EC and the government must work together to conduct the National Assembly election without any delay. The EC has said it requires at least 40 days for the preparation of the National Assembly election. The government, on the other hand, should also fix the date for the National Assembly election after consulting the EC. The time sought by the EC is too long and, it should be shortened as much as possible considering its urgency. All constitutional and legal hurdles causing the delay in making public the parliamentary PR results and in holding the National Assembly election should be cleared by both the EC and the government.
The beauty of democracy is swift and peaceful transfer of power to the party winning the people’s mandate. Democratic process, culture and values will erode if the party in the government tries to seek one or other excuse and legal loopholes to stay in power even after losing the people’s verdict expressed through the ballots. It is also shameful to note that the parties which have won a comfortable majority in the parliamentary elections have to mount pressure on the EC and the government to make public the PR results and to prepare grounds for handing over the power at the earliest. It will not augur well in the long run even for the ruling Nepali Congress if it adopts a delaying tactic. The government’s constitutional duty is to facilitate the transfer of power by removing all legal hurdles instead of putting the spokes on the process. The government must immediately announce the date for National Assembly election. And the EC should act accordingly.
Protect the poor
Brutal cold snaps hit the Tarai region every winter. The Dom community in Blehichapena Rural Municipality-5 in Saptari has been hit hard by extreme cold. Just as the temperatures continue to plummet, all poor Dom families in the district are increasingly concerned about saving themselves from biting cold. People in Chhinamasta, Banainiya, Fullhara and Negada among others in the district are having a tough time. Children and the elderly have been hit hard. Doms are the poorest of all the Dalits.
Reports of deaths from severe cold come every year from the Tarai region during winter. Though some organisations are learnt to have provided the poor with warm clothes and other necessary means including wood to make bonfires, community leaders say they hardly reach the target groups.
Cold wave is a natural phenomenon and it occurs every year. It is necessary that the state and its agencies strengthen the preparedness well in advance so as to protect the poor from biting cold. The government agencies do distribute warm clothes, firewood and other stuff to protect the poor from cold, but poor monitoring often means they hardly reach those who require them the most when winter is at its peak.
A version of this article appears in print on January 03, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.