Election Commission seeks clarification from BhattaraiJanata Samajbadi leader and former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai had tweeted a picture of him stamping his ballot paper in violation of poll laws.
The Election Commission has sought clarification from Janata Samajbadi Party leader Baburam Bhattarai for making public a picture of him stamping his ballot paper.
“We have sought clarification from him [Bhattarai],” said Dinesh Thapaliya, the chief election commissioner.
Section 9 (1) of the Election (Offences and Punishment) Act 2017 states that after stamping the ballot paper, it should not be shown to anyone, and Section 9 (2) says anyone violating this provision can be fined up to Rs15,000 by the election commissioner.
The commission has asked Bhattarai, a former prime minister, why action should not be initiated against him for making public his picture in violation of the election laws, according to commission spokesperson Shaligram Sharma Poudel.
“Did you know you shouldn’t take another person with you to the polling booth? Did you, a former prime minister of the country and a leader of a responsible party, take a photographer to the polling booth where voters are supposed to exercise their franchise through a secret ballot? How did you take your cell phone or camera into the secret room?” The commission has asked. “What are your reasons for disregarding the legal provisions?”
On Friday afternoon, Bhattarai drew a lot of flak from people for his opinion on the secret ballot, on Twitter.
“A fundamental of democracy is that a person can express and disseminate his/her views/opinions openly. There’s no principle as such of a secret ballot. A secret ballot means if someone wants to keep their votes secret, that should be allowed. If someone wants to reveal who they voted for, they should not be stopped,” Bhattarai tweeted hours after casting his vote in Gorkha.
In an earlier post, Bhattarai posted his pictures on Twitter.
In one of the pictures, which he removed later, he is seen putting the stamp on the umbrella symbol for the mayor candidate of his party, Janata Samajbadi.
Bhattarai has been asked to furnish his clarification within 24 hours.
Thapaliya said that necessary legal action will be taken against Bhattarai based on his response. The Election Commission, however, does not have a good track record when it comes to penalising politicians for violating the code of conduct or poll laws. Usually, the commission seeks clarification and lets them go with warnings like “do not repeat the mistake again”.
Last week, the commission sought clarifications from CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Nepali Congress central leader Arzu Rana Deuba for threatening voters not to vote for other parties.
Dahal in Bharatpur had said the country would face a deep crisis if people did not vote for the ruling alliance. Rana, who is also the wife of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, in Dadeldhura had said money won’t be sent by the federal government to those local units where Congress mayors are not elected.