Dahal seeks opinion on elections in two phasesFive major parties in Parliament though have agreed that local level elections should be held in single phase on May 14, they have not ruled out the possibility of two-phase polls if “the agitating Madhes-based parties agree to participate”.
Five major parties in Parliament though have agreed that local level elections should be held in single phase on May 14, they have not ruled out the possibility of two-phase polls if “the agitating Madhes-based parties agree to participate”.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Wednesday called a meeting of the top leaders of the five major parties—Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, CPN (Maoist Centre), Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik—to discuss various aspects of the scheduled polls, including security and the possibility of holding them in two phases, and find ways to break the current deadlock.
The Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, and the Sanghiya Gathabandhan, a broader alliance of the SLMM and Janajati forces, have warned of disrupting May 14 polls, saying that the government failed to address their demand of constitution amendment.
During the meeting, PM Dahal sought major parties’ opinion on Morcha’s opposition to the polls and possibility of holding elections in two phases.
According to a leader present in the meeting, the UML too hinted that it would not object to two-phase polls “if the Morcha agrees to participate”.
The top leaders also discussed ways to deal with the situation and measures to be taken if the Morcha refuses to budge from its stance. They could not arrive at any conclusion though.
The major parties’ discussions on the possibility of two-phase polls follows Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav’s assertion on Tuesday that there is no turning back on May 14 elections. “The election cycle is already in ‘advance stage’ now, and it is too late to roll it back, as the polls are less than a month away,” CEC Yadav told a select group of newspaper editors at the Election Commission (EC) headquarters on Tuesday.
The EC chief, however, reiterated the call for making atmosphere “even more conducive” for the elections.
The top leaders on Wednesday concluded the meeting “on a positive note”, according to another leader present in the meeting, with the ruling parties agreeing to do their best “until the last moment” to convince the Morcha to join the poll process and the main opposition UML giving its nod to support the bid.
“Leaders today discussed the possibility of holding polls in two phases if the Morcha agrees to participate,” NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba said after the meeting. “Though we are of the view that the elections should take place on May 14, we are positive about going for two-phase polls if the Madhesi Morcha agrees to join the process.” Deuba’s stance on two-phase polls has become softer of late, as earlier he held firm views on single-phase polls. “Excluding the Madhesi Morcha from the poll process could result in complications,” he said.
When asked whether the parties indeed are planning polls in two phases, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Bimalendra Nidhi said, “Holding polls in two phases if the Morcha agrees to participate is just an opinion from the prime minister, it in no way is a proposal.”
The UML and MJF-L, which are not part of the government, however, dropped a hint that they would not mind two-phase polls “if there is a commitment from the Morcha that it will participate in the polls. The meeting decided to continue negotiations with the Morcha for an agreement that could pave the way for its participation in polls, said UML leader Subas Nembang.