Lawmakers push for stronger ECMost of the lawmakers participating in a discussion on three bills related to election on Sunday backed strengthening the Election Commission to ensure timely and fair elections.
Most of the lawmakers participating in a discussion on three bills related to election on Sunday backed strengthening the Election Commission to ensure timely and fair elections.
At a time when the constitutional body is seeking the authority to fix the election date in the new Election Commission Act, many lawmakers supported the EC’s demand.
The bill on Works, Duty and Rights of the Election Commission tabled by the government in Parliament has removed this provision originally proposed by the EC.
At a discussion organised by the Parliamentary State Affairs Committee, lawmakers including Prem Suwal, Chitra Bahadur KC, Bikram Thapa and Jayanta Chanda stood for allowing the EC to declare the election date while many others stressed the need for strengthening the commission.
“There is a tendency among the ruling parties to assess whether they would win the vote before declaring the election date, instead of developing the system of holding the polls on time,” said lawmaker KC.
Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav demanded that the constitutional body should have the authority to set the poll date.
“The EC should also be allowed to take action against staffers employed for election purpose to ensure free and fair polls,” he said, pointing out the experiences in the past where government employees and security personnel had acted to influence the election results in some places. Currently, discussions are taking place on the Bill on Election Commission, Bill on Political Parties and Bill on Voters’ list.
A total of 27 lawmakers have tabled amendment proposals demanding authority for the EC to fix the election date. They have proposed allowing the EC to fix the date of holding the election in consultation with the government. A clause of the bill says the government fixes the date in consultation with the EC.
The commission also wants state funding for the political parties and a threshold of at least 1.5 percent votes for representation in Parliament.
“The provision of state funding will allow the Office of the Auditor General to audit it. This will enhance transparency in the parties’ funding,” said a senior EC official.
The EC had proposed the provision in the original draft but the government removed it before tabling the bill in Parliament. While lawmakers from major parties want a vote threshold, smaller parties are against it.
Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi said endorsement of the bill would help accelerate the process of holding the local body elections in April-May next year. “The government has tabled the bill after much consultation. It would be better if the bill is passed as it is,” he said.