Bharatpur vote counting fiasco: 90 ballot papers found torn, 70pc in shredsAs many as 90 ballot papers were found torn when election authorities and political party representatives counted them on Thursday, five days after fracas during vote counting for Bharatpur Metropolitan City resulted in the halt of enumeration.
As many as 90 ballot papers were found torn when election authorities and political party representatives counted them on Thursday, five days after fracas during vote counting for Bharatpur Metropolitan City resulted in the halt of enumeration.
Counting of ballot papers of ward no 19 was underway when CPN (Maoist Centre) representatives on Sunday midnight allegedly tore up the ballot papers.
CPN-UML’s Devi Prasad Gyawali was slightly ahead of Maoist Centre’s Renu Dahal at that time. Both are vying for the post of Bharatpur mayor.
“Ninety ballot papers were found torn. The torn ballot papers were counted in the presence of mayoral candidates, chief district officer and district police chief as per the instruction of the Election Commission (EC),” said Chief Election Officer Kabi Prasad Neupane. “I will send my report to the EC.”
The EC on Wednesday instructed chief election officer Neupane to ascertain the number of torn ballot papers after its probe team failed to come up with the exact number of ballot papers that were damaged.
Of the 2,897 votes cast in ward no 19 of Bharatpur Metropolitan City, 1,809 votes had already been counted when the incident occurred at around 11:45pm on Sunday. “Of the 998 ballot papers that were yet to be counted, 90 were found torn, most of them into small pieces,” he said.
When the last count was made public before Sunday’s incident, Acharya had garnered 41,641 votes while Renu had obtained 40,908 votes.
“More than 70 percent of the ballot papers have been torn to small pieces,” said Nepali Congress district President Jit Narayan Shrestha who was present when the authorities counted the torn ballot papers.
The NC had not fielded its mayoral candidate for Bharatpur as per an electoral alliance with the Maoist Centre and is supporting Renu, the daughter of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Shrestha said his party would honour the EC
District leaders of the UML and the Maoist Centre have refused to budge from their stances. “The number of torn ballots is not that huge. Those ballot papers were torn by party representatives involved in counting. So vote counting must resume,” said UML district chief Krishna Bhakta Pokharel. Ishwari Bhattarai, district in-charge of the Maoist Centre, however, said the ballot papers were torn to so small pieces that it would be impossible to assemble them together for counting. “There is no alternative to re-polling,” said Bhattarai.
Maoist Centre members freed on bail
Two CPN (Maoist Centre) members, who were arrested on charge of tearing up ballot papers, were released on bail on Thursday. A single bench of District Judge Basudev Paudel issued an order to release Madhu Neupane and Drona Siwakoti on bail. The duo were released on general date after they posted Rs 100,000 bail fixed by the court.