Kathmandu: Eminent persons from various walks of life –including former election commissioners–have called on the Election Commission to increase its vigil over possible cases of irregularities and violation of code of conduct during the upcoming federal parliament and provincial assembly polls slated for November 20.
The calls come amid a time when Nepal’s poll body has been facing accusations of failing to strictly implement the election laws and code of conduct on all candidates contesting the polls. The demand was raised during the Election Commission-Citizen Dialogue program organized by Tanka Prasad Memorial Trust in the capital on Sunday.
Speaking in the program, Nilambar Acharya, former Nepali ambassador to India, urged the Election Commission to be extra mindful about ensuring fair polls since the election date is drawing closer.
“We have the past precedents of ballot box exchange and disappearance. We have the precedent of influencing the election outcomes by chewing ballot papers and by turning off lights while the vote counting is going on,” said Acharya.
“The Election Commission should be strong enough to be able to prevent such cases from recurring.” He also asked the poll body to increase the vigil in the constituencies of top leaders of major parties.
Surya Prasad Shrestha, former Chief Election Commissioner, asked the Commission to check the source of campaign financing. “What is the source of their spending? Where do they get the money from? This is something the Commission should look into.”
Shrestha also spoke about the confusion on voter’s education triggered mainly by the alliance between Nepali Congress and other ruling parties. “The alliance has become a matter of embarrassment for the Election Commission in conducting voter education programs,” he said.
Bhojaraj Pokharel, another former Chief Election Commissioner, urged the poll body to maintain consistency while taking action against the candidates breaching code of conduct. “There should be consistency in the action of the commission. The Commission should not appear to take action selectively.”
Dolakh Bahadur Gurung, former acting Chief Election Commissioner, asked the Election Commission to be extra careful during the vote counting. Recalling the incident of a truck carrying ballot papers disappearing in 2008 Constituent Assembly polls, he said that the election commission should ensure safe transportation of ballot boxes to the counting centers.
Speaking at the program, Madhu Raman Acharya, former foreign secretary and permanent representative to the United Nations, said that the election commission should be biased while taking actions against the candidates.
“The Commission appears to be tough on independent candidates while appearing to be lenient to the candidates from the political parties,” he said. “This should not happen.”
Officials from the Election Commission said that it is committed to conducting the polls in a free, fearless and fair manner and urged the people to trust the institution.