EDITORIAL: Sheer negligence

If the EC was able to arrange for government employees to exercise their voting rights in the past why cannot it do the same this time?

The Election Commission (EC) has said that it could not make arrangements for those deployed for parliamentary and provincial elections to cast their votes in the first and second phases of elections scheduled for November 26 and December 7 due to time constraint. Over half a million people, including civil servants, teachers, security personnel, judges and other government employees, deployed for the elections, will be deprived of exercising their franchise as the EC said it could not issue them temporary voters’ identity cards due to a short period of time available for it. The EC has argued that it has only 92 days to prepare for both types of elections so it could not issue the temporary identity cards to the personnel pressed for the elections.

During the first and second Constituent Assembly elections it was the same EC which had arranged voting rights to those deployed for conducting the elections under the proportional representation (PR) system. During both the CA elections the EC had issued temporary voters’ identity cards and had also arranged temporary polling booths for the government employees and security personnel deployed for the elections.

It means that over half a million people deployed for conducting the elections will be deprived of using their franchise. EC officials have also said that the people staying in old-age homes will also not be able to cast votes in the first ever parliamentary and provincial elections being held under the new constitution. In the past the EC had set up temporary booths for the security personnel in their barracks and old-age homes from where they could cast their vote under the PR. However, the people who are deployed for election purpose within their home districts can exercise their voting right under the PR. There are over 15.4 million eligible voters in the country, and they will be electing their representatives for federal parliament and provincial assemblies under the FPtP and PR system.

The EC should not have been in confusion that parliamentary and provincial elections were going to be held between November and December because after that it would not be possible to hold any elections due to cold weather condition across the country. It is sheer negligence on the part of the EC that it overlooked the voting rights of those people who are responsible for conducting the elections. If the EC was able to make arrangements for the government employees to exercise their voting rights in the past why cannot it do the same this time? There is still time for the EC to revisit its old decision and make alternative provisions allowing the government employees to cast their votes under the PR. Half a million population deployed for election purpose is not a small number. This number can make a huge difference in election results. What the EC can do is to allow such people to use their voters’ identity cards – no matter whether they are issued for other constituencies or polling booths – to cast votes under the PR from their duty stations. Or, they should be allowed to cast votes through post offices like in other countries.

Fixing potholes

Pit and potholes in the roads of Kathmandu Valley cause obstructions to traffic. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had directed the concerned authorities to fix them by July 30. However, only 80 per cent repair works have been completed so far. The delay in such works have been attributed to rainfall. The Kathmandu Metropolitan City has allocated a sum of Rs. 800 million to carry out the desperately required repair works. It has set aside a sum of Rs. 250 million for the first phase of the repair works. The additional Rs. 550 million would be released in the second phase.  The earmarked Rs. 250 million would be divided into five maintenance packages. The repair works would begin from mid-November of this year.

After the repair works vehicles would be able to run smoothly. The KMC Mayor says that the repair works would begin after the end of the monsoon. Fixing pits and potholes now would only be a waste of the tax payers money for the pits and potholes would appear again in a short time due to the rain and also heavy traffic. Therefore, this fund made available should be used judiciously.