ELECTION POLITICS: Heading For Confrontations?

After failure to reach consensus on elections issue, Nepal’s major political parties are heading for confrontations

Oct. 6, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -8 Oct. 4- 2013 (Ashoj 18, 2070)

Backed by international community and supported by overwhelming Nepali, Nepal's four major political parties are finally preparing for Constituent Assembly elections for November 19. Despite the hurdles created by CPN-Maoist cadres, candidates of major political parties filed their nominations for first past post system.

All the senior leaders of major political parties submitted their nominations. CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal submitted his nomination from Kathmandu No 2 constituency with a large number of his party supporters.

As parties are sending their nominees to the elections, CPN-Maoist led alliances have declared that they will take all necessary actions- violent or peaceful - to disrupt the elections. "The phase of negotiation is over. The street will decide the fate of politics," thundered Mohan Vaidya Kiran addressing press conference on October 2.

At a time when political parties are in the process of registration for the candidate list October 3, the general strike called by Federal Limbuwan State Council, one of the key allies of CPN-Maoist, crippled the normal life in nine eastern districts. The bandh is enforced in Jhapa, Ilam, Panchthar, Taplejung, Morang, Sunsari, Dhankuta, Sankhuwasabha and Tehrathum districts paralyzing the normal life. Although the bandh called to disturb filing nominations, it failed stop the candidates of major political parties from submitting their nominations.

The agitating CPN-Maoist has decided to obstruct candidates in the CA poll scheduled for November 19 from entering the villages to canvass for votes.  At a meeting of the party politburo held at the party´s head office at Buddhanagar, the Maoists appealed to people to boycott the poll actively and effectively, arguing that the talks option was now over. CPN-Maoist led alliance has issued letters to the party candidates contesting from various parts of Nepal asking them to withdraw nominations or face consequences.

Along with this, the Maoists also announced 10-day general strike which is scheduled for November 9 to 19 to obstruct the CA poll. "We urged the candidates to revoke their candidacies. We will obstruct the elections and announce a people´s constitution from the streets whatever the sacrifice we have to make," said Vaidya

Although pro-elections political parties have already nominated their candidates for the elections, they have yet to announce program against the strike. Despite claiming to provide complete security, Nepal's security institutions are yet to come against the CPN-Maoist and its alliances.  

"We will wind up Maoist cadres after looking their strength." Those who break land of the land will be punished in accordance to the law. Obstructing the election is against the law," told Home minister Madhav Prasad Ghimire to New Spotlight.

Thos political parties which are contesting the elections are yet to announce the programs."Our workers will retaliate against CPN-Maoist. We will not allow anybody to hijack the elections agenda," said UCPN-Maoist leader Prachanda.

Failed Negotiations

On September 28-29CPN-Maoist leaders Mohan Vaidya and Dev Gurung met UCPN-Maoist leaders Prachanda, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and Narayan Kazi Shrestha. According to Maoist leader Dev Gurung, it was the four party leaders responsible for breaking the negotiations.   

Maoist leaders reportedly proposed holding the elections of mountain districts on prescribed November 19 and remaining elections on the last week of February 2014 and demanded the resignation of chairman of council of minister Khil Raj Regmi as chief justice.

"Every political parties and politics have limits. If they cannot contest the election, it is their rights. However, they should not obstruct the elections. We have already requested the government to ensure safety and security to our workers."

Security Challenges

As the government is preparing the integrated security plan, various underground armed outfits operating in the Tarai and hill, along with Maoist led 33 parties alliance, remain a major security challenge in the upcoming Constitution Assembly election.  Eastern and central regions are more vulnerable from underground outfits. According to Home Ministry Officials, there are three dozen underground outfits in terai and hill regions. Two outfits operating in the eastern Tarai have warned of disrupting the election. Akhil Tarai Mukti Morcha led by Jaya Krishna Goit and Prajatantrik Tarai Mukti Morchaled by Jwala Singh have already announced a series of activities. CPN-Maoist led 33 parties are organizing former Maoist combatants to foil the security arrangements.

As per the integrated security plan prepared by the government, around 62,000 Nepal Army personnel will be deployed as a backup force during the CA polls.  Similarly, 54,000 personnel from Nepal Police, 22,000 from APF and over 44,000 temporary personnel will be used for election security.

Possible scenario

Given the current political scenario, the Election Commission is likely to hold the elections on November 19. At a time when Maoist led 33 parties have already ordered mobilization of their cadres and underground outfits in terai, issuing similar kinds of statement against the elections and the government announcement of new integrated security plan, the level of violence will intensify during and before the elections. If parties fail to discipline their party leaders in line with the party’s decision to go for polls, this is likely to boost Maoists to make the elections uncertain.

As a majority of political parties are in the final state of preparation for the November 19 elections and CPN-Maoist led 33 parties are mobilizing their cadres to disrupt the poll, there is a chance for an eye to eye confrontation.

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