Bypolls close with average 60 percent voter turnoutElections were held in Bara-2, Tanahun-1 and Chitwan-2 with results expected to be declared by April 25.
Bypolls were held in three lower house constituencies—Bara-2, Tanahun-1 and Chitwan-2—on Sunday.
The elections were conducted in the seats that were vacated after Ramchandra Paudel (who was elected in November from Tanahun-1) and Ramsahay Prasad Yadav (who had won from Bara-2) resigned from their lawmaker positions after getting elected as the President and Vice President of Nepal, respectively. Similarly, Chitwan-2 fell vacant after the Supreme Court invalidated the lawmaker status of Rastriya Swatantra Party chair Rabi Lamichhane over a legal flaw in his citizenship.
According to the Election Commission, the average voter turnout in Sunday’s by-elections in the three constituencies stood at around 60 percent.
“A total of 64 percent votes were cast in Bara-2, 63 percent in Chitwan-2 and 53 percent in Tanahun-1, as per preliminary reports,” said Surya Prasad Aryal, information officer at the Election Commission, in a statement. “The process of entering election details in the commission’s system is underway."
The voting took place from 7 am to 5 pm in the three constituencies.
The voter turnout during last year’s polls in Bara-2 was 63.56 percent, 67.63 percent in Chitwan-2 and 54.03 percent in Tanahun-1.
Although the commission said the by-elections were held peacefully and enthusiastically, there were a few incidents at some of the polling centres.
The voting process was halted for nearly two hours at the polling centre in Naya Kiran Secondary School, Bharatpur 11, Chitwan. The representatives of other political parties protested that the code of conduct had been violated when the cadres and leaders of the Rastriya Swatantra Party chanted slogans as Rabi Lamichhane arrived. A scuffle was witnessed at the polling centre. The voting process re-started after the Rastriya Swatantra Party representatives agreed to apologise at an all-party meeting. Similarly, polling was briefly halted at the Krishnapur Secondary School polling centre in Bharatpur-7.
In Bara-2, the Janamat Party and the UML accused the ruling party cadres and leaders of trying to take control of a polling booth. The UML candidate in Bara-2, Purushottam Poudel, wrote on social media that the ruling coalition misused its powers by trying to rig votes at some centres.
Similarly, a complaint was registered at the Office of the Chief Returning Officer in Chitwan-2 against the Swatantra Party President and candidate Lamichhane, accusing him of flouting the election code. Dhruva Raj Pokharel, representative of the Nepali Congress candidate Jit Narayan Shrestha, filed a complaint demanding the cancellation of Lamichhane’s candidacy, alleging that he had violated the code for the by-elections.
Meanwhile, the police have arrested six people from the Piparpati polling centre in Bara-2, for trying to disrupt the voting process. In a separate incident, the Janata Samajbadi Party leader Ram Sagar Yadav was detained from the Ward Office voting centre in Devtal Rural Municipality, allegedly for carrying a sample ballot paper.
The commission plans to make the final election results public by April 25.
In Chitwan-2, 138 polling centres and 43 polling stations were set up, Tanahun-1 had 152 polling centres and 69 polling stations, while in Bara-2, the voting took place at 136 polling centres and 82 polling stations.
There were 1,05,011 voters, and 34 candidates in Bara-2; 1,24,695 voters and 22 candidates in Chitwan-2; and 1,23,305 voters and nine candidates in Tanahun-1.
The by-elections have drawn the public’s attention across the country as some key politicians and popular personalities are in the fray.
In Tanahun-1, economist Swarnim Wagle, Nepali Congress leader Govinda Bhattarai and UML’s Sarbendra Khanal competed to be elected to the lower house. In Chitwan-2, Swatantra Party chair Lamichhane was pitted against Jit Narayan Shrestha from the Nepali Congress and Ram Prasad Neupane, the district chapter chair of the UML.
In Bara-2, prominent Madhesh leader Upendra Yadav contested against Janamat Party’s Shiv Chandra Kushwaha and UML’s Purushottam Paudel. Rastriya Swatantra Party fielded former DIG Ramesh Kharel from the constituency.