Dispute delays Bharatpur vote count by more than 8 hoursUML supporters stage a protest against the delay in counting of votes in front of Covered Hall in Bharatpur, Chitwan, on Monday. POST PHOTO: SHIVA PURI
The vote count in Bharatpur Metropolitan City, Chitwan, was delayed by more than eight hours on Monday because a discussion on “what-if” scenario on inconsistency in the number of votes inside a ballot box ran into a dispute among the political parties.
As the representatives of the political parties could not agree on how to begin the enumeration process if the number of votes inside a ballot box did not match the log kept by the Election Commission, there was no certainty of vote count taking place inside Bharatpur Covered Hall until afternoon.
The CPN-UML supporters staged a protest outside the venue throughout the morning demanding the election officials to urgently convene the vote count did not help the situation. Their main contention, however, was aimed at the electoral alliance between CPN (Maoist Centre) and Nepali Congress.
More specifically, the UML supporters were venting their anger at the reports of the Maoist Centre suggesting “no distinction should be made between the votes received by the NC and the Maoist Centre” because of the alliance between the two parties.
The Maoist Centre has fielded Renu Dahal, daughter of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, as the party’s mayoral candidate for Bharatpur while the NC’s Parwati Shah is running for the deputy mayor’s post. The two parties have agreed to support each other’s candidates.
The UML has picked Devi Gyawali and Dibya Acharya as its mayor and the deputy mayor candidates respectively. The stalled vote count finally started at around 4:30 pm after it was agreed that the Election Commission and its regulations will have the final say in case of inconsistencies in number of votes.
As of late evening while the vote count was still underway, UML’s Gyawali was leading Maoist Centre’s Dahal for Bharatpur’s mayoral berth. The vote count for deputy mayor’s post was also in UML’s favour, with Gyawali at front and NC’s Shah trailing closely behind.