It has been more than a month since we elected the government led by Nepali Congress president and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have joined hands in the coalition government. After the government was formed, we have been reading and watching in the media about the need of holding the local elections. We have not held the elections to the local bodies in 15 years. In the absence of the duly elected representatives, our local bodies are falling behind in terms of posting economic development. The local units are faced with rampant practices of corruption and irregularity at the higher levels. Misuse of funds and resources and people having been deprived of their basic needs have made news for a long period of time now. The officers who are running the local bodies are not able to carry out the development activities, and some are involved in improper use of funds and resources. It is very important to have local bodies soon because in a democracy elected representatives are the backbone of development and good governance at the grass roots level, where people can raise their demands with the elected bodies. Now where will the people go and put show their needs and requests? We don’t have any authority to listen to people’s interests and voices. In all 75 DDCs, 58 municipalities and 3,915 VDCs have remained without the people´s representatives for the last 15 years and this is unfortunate.
Newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bamdev Gautam and another Deputy Prime Minister and Local Development Minister Prakash Man Singh have recently expressed commitments about holding the election to the local bodies within 6 months. Other ministers in this government and leaders of Nepali Congress and UML have also pointed out the need of local elections as soon as possible.
For the last decade, officials who have been running the local bodies have not been responsible and accountable to the people. They have been involved in irregularities and corrupt practices and our development activities are lagging behind as a result. Only the elected bodies will be responsible and accountable to the people in a democratic society. Only the legitimately formed local bodies can properly mobilize funds and resources in many development activities. We need fast and rapid scale of development in infrastructure, solve our needs of drinking water, electricity, roads, schools and health centers, proper irrigation systems for agriculture, solution to our massive unemployment problems, tourism development and many other important aspects. As our country, especially Kathmandu, the capital city, is facing a huge crisis of drinking water, 12 hours of load shedding, and traffic problems, we need to have local elections and form the local bodies at any cost to solve all such problems. For development in respect of our basic needs of life like drinking water, agriculture, electricity, education, transportation, roads, and health care, we need to have the local bodies. Only with the local bodies functioning properly in their own place, they will be able to create jobs and opportunities for youths who are leaving the country and travelling abroad for labor works and lower wages. If proper opportunities are created at home, they will remain in this country, which will be our huge asset. We need local bodies for our social, political, cultural and tourism development. As our economy is highly dependent on tourism, we need to attract more tourists from different countries and, for that, we need good infrastructure, proper road networks, hotels and lodges. Also with the local bodies around, many big national and international companies will invest in our development projects for the welfare of the people.
Only then more tourists will come here and spend their money, spurring the overall economic growth and employment prospects. Thee is an urgent need to hold the local elections for strengthening democracy, economic development and good governance at the grass roots level.
As we have a newly-elected government of Nepali Congress and UML, the people have high aspirations and expectations from this coalition. After a long time, the people have reposed their trust to these political parties in last CA election.
Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety and other Commissioners have requested the government to amend laws and rules from the legislative parliament. This is necessary if the government wants to announce the date of election for the end of Jestha 2071. The government will need to support and cooperate with the Election Commission on this. By successfully conducting the election for the second CA recently, the EC has shown that it has the capabilities, resources and confidence to hold the local elections, given cooperation from the government and political parties.
Recently many Constituent Assembly members from Nepali Congress and UML have raised their voices in the CA to amend the local laws and rules and announce the date of election as soon as possible. They have demanded interim local bodies before promulgating the constitution. The government should seriously discuss this matter with all the parties, especially UCPN Maoist, CPN-Maoist, Madhesi parties and other parties to get their support and cooperation to hold free and fair elections. It will be a great opportunity for the government and political parties to get the trust and respect of the people by forming the local bodies.
So, as the precious time is running out, without any further delay, the government needs to announce the date of elections for the end of Jestha 2071. It is the responsibility of Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and the cabinet to forge consensus from all parties and support the Election Commission which is standing ready to hold the elections. It is certain that the election will be held peacefully, in a free and fair manner. Only after electing the local bodies, the people will feel a sense of democracy operating at the local level. People of all regions, rural and urban areas, have the aspirations to participate in the local elections. In fact, they are desperately waiting for the announcement of the date of election.