Government plans to hold elections on November 20The dillydallying in declaring the date has prompted some to speculate if the ruling coalition is planning to delay the polls.
The elections for the federal and provincial elections will be held on November 20, two days later than the date proposed by the Election Commission, if there is no change in the government’s plan.
The Election Commission on July 6 recommended November 18 for holding the federal and provincial elections in a single phase.
Dinesh Thapaliya, the chief election commissioner, said the Election Commission has been told the next Cabinet meeting, most probably on Monday, will announce November 20 as the election date.
The government has already been facing criticism for not announcing the date for the elections. It was largely believed that the government was waiting for the parliamentary approval of the amendment to the Citizenship Act.
The bill that was endorsed by the House of Representatives was approved by the National Assembly last Thursday. Speaker Agni Sapkota on Sunday dispatched the bill to the President’s Office for authentication.
The commission has been saying that it needs at least 120 days for poll preparations. If the elections are declared for November 20, it will have
112 days for the preparations.
“That will be enough time,” said Thapaliya. “However, it will be late if the election date is not announced in a couple of days.”
As per Article 85, the term of the House of Representatives is of five years unless dissolved earlier. It, however, does not say which date to take as the beginning of its term. In the lack of clear provisions about the beginning and expiry of the term, the commission has taken December 8 as the date of commencement of the tenure as per the House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly Elections Acts.
Both the Acts say, in Section 58, that the polling officer, after counting the votes from all the booths, announces the winner under the first-past-the-post system from the respective constituency. The commission decided to take December 8 (2017), when the winners of both federal and provincial elections under the first-past-the-post category were announced, as the date of commencement of tenure.
Minister for Home Affairs Bal Krishna Khand said there have been discussions to hold elections on November 20 but it was yet to be decided.
“The Election Commission has proposed November 18 and we have discussed whether the polls can be held on November 20,” he told the Post. “However, I can’t say for sure the date will be announced by Monday’s Cabinet.”
In his meetings with party leaders, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, also the president of the Nepali Congress, has been saying that elections will be announced “shortly.”
Deuba in a meeting with his party’s presidents from the three districts of Kathmandu Valley said on Saturday that the government was preparing to announce the election date soon and asked them to focus on election campaigning.
“The prime minister said the elections will be announced shortly,” Durlav Thapa, the Congress president from Bhaktapur, told the Post. “He asked us to focus on election campaigns to make the party candidates victorious.”
Thapa said they got a hint that the election will be held on November 20.
The parties in the ruling coalition had discussed the poll date a few days back where they talked that the elections could be held on November 20 and 21.
Rajendra Shrestha, minister for federal affairs and general administration, said though there is a broad understanding among the ruling parties that the elections should be held in the third week of November, no decision has been taken on the exact date.
“I am unaware if the date will be announced from Monday's Cabinet,” he told the Post.
Officials at the commission say they have already started their preparations assuming that the elections will be announced for the third week of November after getting hints that the date will be November 20.
Congress leaders maintain that the federal and provincial elections will be held in November, without saying the date.
They say that the government was waiting for the amendment bill to the Citizenship Act to get through both Houses of parliament before announcing the date.
The dillydallying in declaring the date has prompted some to speculate if the ruling coalition is planning to delay the polls.
On Wednesday, Congress whip Min Bishwakarma, however, told the Post that the election date will be announced from the first Cabinet meeting after the bill gets through the National Assembly.
Monday’s will be the first Cabinet meeting after the bill’s passage.
“Rest assured the elections will be held on November 20,” Bishwakarma told the Post. “It won’t go beyond that. I have talked to the prime minister on the matter.”