Election Commission prepares for bypolls in AprilThe lower house seat of Ilam-2 is vacant after the demise of former Speaker and chairman of the Constituent Assembly Subas Nembang.
The Election Commission is preparing to hold the bypolls of the House of Representatives and the provincial assembly in April.
A team led by Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Thapaliya is meeting Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and other ministers concerned to propose the election date. Ram Prasad Bhandari, a commissioner, said they have already started preparing for the bypolls following the completion of the National Assembly election.
Elections held on January 25 elected one-third members of the 59-strong upper house. “We are meeting the prime ministers and government representatives within a few days to propose the election date,” Bhandari told the Post. “We are proposing elections in the first week of Baishakh (April third week). However, it is the government that takes the ultimate decision.” The government announces election dates based on the commission’s recommendation.
Bhandari said the elections will be held in two seats—one each for the House of Representatives and Karnali provincial assembly. The lower house seat of Ilam-2 is vacant after the demise of former Speaker and chairman of the Constituent Assembly Subas Chandra Nembang. He died of a heart attack on September 13. The CPN-UML leader had been continuously winning in the constituency since the 1999 general elections.
In November 2022’s poll Nembang had defeated his closest contender Nepali Congress’ Dambar Bahadur Khadka by a margin of 1,014 votes. While he garnered 30,020 votes, Khadka, who was a common candidate of the Congress-led alliance, managed to get 29,906.
Together with Ilam-2, elections will be held in Bajhang (A) for the Sudurpaschim Provincial Assembly. The seat is vacant after Prithvi Bahadur Singh, a provincial assembly member and also minister for internal affairs and law in Karnali, was killed in a road accident in June.
Though around two dozen positions at the local level too remain vacant, the commission is yet to decide on holding elections in those positions. One position of the chief of the district coordination committee, and one chair and one vice-chairperson of rural municipalities, and 17 ward positions are lying vacant. The number of vacant positions of ward members is even higher. The commission is still undecided about elections at the local level as there are no clear legal or constitutional provisions for by-elections at the local level, unlike in the case of the provinces and the federal parliament.
Article 84 (7) of the constitution says if a seat of any member of the House of Representatives falls vacant while the term still remains for more than six months, the vacancy shall be fulfilled in the same manner of electoral system as in which such seat was fulfilled. Same is the case with the provincial assembly as per the Article 176 (8) of the constitution.
Though the parties are yet to make formal preparations, they have already started informal discussions for the bypolls, mainly in Ilam. There are speculations that the UML could field Suhang Nembang, younger of the two sons of Subas, from the constituency. A lawyer by profession, Suhang has been active in party politics after the demise of his father. Suhang had taken part in the UML’s mid-hill march held in December.
Similarly, CPN (Unified Socialist) leader and former Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal too wants to contest the poll. Khanal was defeated by UML’s Mahesh Basnet from Ilam-1 in the previous poll despite being a common candidate of the ruling alliance. “It is natural for all the parties to stake a claim for the seat but it is too early to discuss it. Let the poll dates be announced first,” a Unified Socialist leader. As the constituency was given to the Congress in the seat sharing deal, it too has claim over it.