LOCAL BODIES: Election Pressure

Leaders of political parties, CA members and civil society members have called for the local elections to implement the reconstruction work

July 3, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 09 No. -2 July. 03- 2015 (Ashad 18, 2072)

After the earthquake, the number of households in the earthquake devastated areas has doubled. There are growing complaints that the distribution of relief materials is unfair.

Many such incidents have appeared in the headlines of newspaper and dominated the public discussions. As the elections for local bodies have not been held since 2002, the local bodies, which are responsible for the delivery of services at the grass root level, are under a bureaucratic leadership.

As bureaucrats, secretary of VDC and executive officer of Municipalities do not have the people's base -- although they claim to have been there due to the local people. 

With the legal right to provide basic services to the grass root level, VDCs and Municipalities make mandatory recommendations for citizens to get the basic services provided by the state, including the relief packages.

In the absence of the elected bodies, the local people are trying to report false numbers of household to VDC secretaries to claim more in relief packages. In the last two months, each and every family is doing their utmost best to seek partition papers from VDCs and Municipalities to claim additional benefits. 

"It is very unfortunate that the country has been suffering in the lack of elected local bodies. We have been demanding the elections for the last thirteen years but all our voices have gone to vain," said Rajendra Pandey, CA member and leader of CPN-UML. Had there been the local bodies, the present difficulties in the rebuilding process and relief distribution would not have appeared," said Pandey.

Organized by Nepal Law Society, the national workshop on election of local bodies and their challenges saw various speakers demanding early election of local bodies. The welcome address was delivered by Krishna Man Pradhan, executive director of Nepal Law Society. The seminar was chaired by Rabindra Adhikari, chairperson Development Committee of the Legislature Parliament. 

Executive Director Pradhan argued that local elections are necessary to strengthening the grass root democracy and make delivery system efficient at the grass root level.

With the floor shared by Acting Chief Commissioner of Election Commission, Madheshi Janadhikar Forum Loktantrik's CA memer Ram Janam Chaudhari, CPN-UML leader and CA member Rajendra Pandey, UCPN-Maoist leader Jhaku Prasad Subedi, Chief Whip of Nepali Congress Chinkazi Shrestha and member of CA Udaya Nepali Shestha, Bhola Bhattarai, Secretary at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development Dr. Som Lal Subedi were also present at the program. Governance Advisor, Royal Norwegian Embassy, said the two hour long program discussed on the paper presented by former CA member Krishna Prasad Sapkota.

In his paper, Local Elections: Context and Reality, Sapkota urged the concerned stakeholders to hold the elections as early as possible."In the context of rebuilding the earthquake devastated country, there must be local elections," said Sapkota.

Commenting on the paper Chief Whip of Nepali Congress Chinkazi Shrestha said it is in nobody's interest to leave the local body in a vacuum. "Local bodies are the backbone of democracy," said Shrestha.

UCPN-Maoist leader Subedi and MJFL leader Chaudhary opposed any elections without determining the federal states or provinces. "Holding the local bodies will weaken the federal structures," said Subedi. "The local elections should be held only after the formation of provinces."

Secretary Dr. Subedi held the view that bureaucracy was not in a position to carry out the burden for a long period of time. "The sooner the elections, the better for the people," said Dr. Subedi.

Former minister and Nepali Congress leader Laxman Ghimire raised the question as to what was wrong to hold the elections for local bodies?

"I don't understand the rationale for not holding the local polls," said Ghimire. Former member of CA Usha Kala Rai also requested political parties to announce elections.

Wrapping up the workshop, CA member Rabindra Adhikary assured that the elections will be held within six months as agreed by four political parties. "What I can say now is that no one can stop the elections for the local bodies," said Adhikary.

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