EDITORIAL: Peaceful polls

With the successful conclusion of the first phase election all confusions and uncertainties aired regarding the parliamentary election have been overcome

Except for some sporadic incidence of violence, booth capturing and obstruction in some polling stations the first phase of the parliamentary and provincial elections for first-past-the-post (FPtP) and proportional representation (PR) went peacefully in 32 hilly and mountainous districts on Sunday. Voters in these districts will be electing 37 parliamentary FPtP and 74 provincial FPtP candidates. There are 282 parliamentary FPtP candidates and 420 provincial FPtP candidates contesting the election from various political parties. The first parliamentary and provincial elections are being held after the country adopted the new constitution on September 20, 2015. There are 3,191,945 eligible voters in the 32 districts, 2,919 polling centres and 4,465 polling stations in these districts. The second phase of parliamentary and provincial elections has been scheduled for December 7. The second phase of elections will be electing 128 parliamentary FPtP members and 256 provincial FPtP members from 45 districts. The voters will also be casting votes for political parties to elect parliamentary and provincial members under the PR. The counting of votes cast in the first phase will be started only after the second phase of election on December 7.

It is expected that the results will come out within a week. The EC said in the evening that around 65 percent votes were cast in the hilly and mountainous districts by voters braving the cold weather and walking a long distance. Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav has said that the commission has made it easy for voters to exercise their franchise by simplifying the rules. Those who did not have voter identity cards or had lost them can also cast votes by producing either a driving license, citizenship certificate, passport, landownership certificate or a voter ID card issued in 2013 when the second CA election was held. CEC Yadav has also called upon all political parties and the international election observers to abide by the election code of conduct to conclude it successfully.

The local level elections have already been held in three phases and elected officials of all the 753 local level units have already started delivering their services. It was the constitutional duty of the government and the EC to hold the parliamentary and provincial elections before January 21, 2018, a constitutional deadline. As the first phase of federal and provincial election has been held by and large peacefully, the government and the EC should also display its mettle to conduct the second phase of election in the same spirit. With the successful conclusion of the first phase election all confusions and uncertainties aired regarding the parliamentary election have been overcome. The parliamentary and provincial polls will not only help institutionalize the hard-earned achievements enshrined in the new constitution but also usher in a new era of political stability paving the way for economic growth and prosperity. The successful holding of the three levels of governments will set up a strong base for the execution of federal structure. The new government to be formed will also resolve the remaining tasks of the peace process that has remained unsettled as the parties were busy in drafting the constitution on a federal line.

Free health services

Free health services are being provided to the poor and marginalized people by the Government of Nepal on the basis of their identity card. Those eligible to get the card are people from districts listed as people from below the Human Development Index who are provided with the Impoverished Citizen Treatment Fund to be given by the government. Free treatment is provided for eight diseases, namely, kidney diseases, cancer, heart, head and spinal injuries, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson, sickle cell and anemia. However, it is alleged that the identity cards are being issued in a haphazard manner. It is found that the well-to-do are misusing the fund and, moreover, 50 per cent of the poor and marginalized do not know about the fund.

As of July 2017, 22,389 patients have been provided with the fund for treatment in various hospitals. For this one requires a recommendation letter from the concerned rural municipality or municipality. It is alleged that some undergoing treatment have been getting free treatment on the basis of forged recommendation letters.