EDITORIAL: Take part in polls

The Madhesi parties should not let slip the chance of institutionalizing the hard-earned achievements of the movements launched by the people for decades

With the date for local level elections set for May 14 the political parties are gearing up for the polls. However, there is uncertainty as to whether the government would be able to hold the polls as it has persistently not been able to convince the agitating Madhes-based parties to take part in the local elections.

It would have been ideal if a consensus on constitution amendment had been reached. As for now the government has decided to increase the number of local levels in Province-2 as per the recommendation made by a task-force of three ministers led by the Federal Affairs and Local Development minister Hitraj Pandey.

It has added 25 local levels to the number of such bodies as recommended by the Local Bodies Restructuring Commission, which had earlier recommended 719 local levels.

There will be 744 local levels in the country and 21 have been added in Province-2, two municipalities in Kathmandu (Sankharapur and Dakshinkali) and one each in Bajhang and Manang.

The United Democratic Madhesi Front, a coalition of agitating Madhesi parties, in particular, is dead set against the present move as it says that this does not address their concerns as the Madhes is home to more than 50 per cent of the population of the country.

Of the total of 719 local levels that the LBRC recommended there were 256 local levels or 35 per cent in the 20 districts in the Madhes. The LBRC’s report is expected to be published in the gazette shortly and to be handed over to the Election Commission.

Meanwhile, to appease the Madhes-centric parties in particular the government has decided the number of local levels and it could be further increased if there is a political consensus.

Meanwhile, the government has instructed the government employees to not resort to strikes that could cause disruption in the holding of the local level elections. It is about 20 years since the last local level elections were held.

Should the three tiers of elections not be held by the stipulated time by January 2018 the future of the new constitution would be in danger, thereby, jeopardizing the progress made so far. Due to differences of opinion among the parties the bill to amend the constitution cannot be passed at the moment.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has himself said that it would be meaningless to table for vote on the second amendment bill if it is not passed by Parliament by a two-thirds majority.

The agitating Madhesi parties have been saying that they will not take part in the local level election until the provincial boundaries are redrawn, a demand which is not possible to meet without the major parties coming together for the same.

There is a constitutional compulsion that the three tiers of elections - parliamentary, provincial and local level - must be held by January 2018. Even the Supreme Court has also ruled that the government come up with a plan about holding those elections on time bound basis.

What can be advised to the Madhesi parties is that they should not let slip the chance of institutionalizing the hard-earned achievements of the movements launched by the people for decades.

Injustice to children

The government’s campaign to administer polio drops to children was affected in 15 districts, including the Kathmandu Valley, after health professionals padlocked District Public Health Offices demanding implementation of the Health Service Act.

The Health Ministry had planned to administer the polio drops in 15 districts on Saturday and Sunday. But it could not be conducted as a result of the strike.

The Health Ministry has suspended 18 health professionals and sought clarifications from them within three days for padlocking the offices creating obstruction in the government’s drive against polio, a disease that causes disability to children lifelong if preventive measure is not taken in advance.

Health service comes under the Essential Service Act which bars obstruction of such services with one or the other excuses. It may be recalled that the vaccination against various diseases had not been obstructed even during the insurgency.

Those who did not cooperate with the government did disservice to the children by padlocking the health facilities.

Whatever grievances that they may have should be settled through dialogue at a time when such programmes are not in operation.