Services halted in Budhiganga amid reelection delayBudhiganga Municipality is without people’s representatives, which has hampered several administrative and development activities in the local body.
Manbir Lohar, a native of Budhiganga Municipality-7 in Bajura, works in New Delhi, India. He recently came home for two weeks to get his citizenship certificate. But he has not received a recommendation, which is mandatory to acquire citizenship from the district administration office, from the ward office.
“Ward officials say they cannot issue the recommendation letter as there is no ward chairperson now,” Lohar said. “When will the ward office get its chief? How long should I wait for the recommendation?”
Not only ward 7, but all the wards of the municipality do not have people’s representatives currently. The tenure of the people’s representatives elected in 2017 was over in the third week of May. The Election Commission conducted the fresh local level election across the country on May 13 but the polls in Budhiganga Municipality were cancelled after the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML cadres captured booths in various places.
The commission’s delay in holding reelection has hampered several administrative and development activities in the local unit.
Among 753 local units in the country, only Budhiganga Municipality is without the people’s representatives. As per the legal provisions, the local government should present its policies and programmes and the annual budget by the 10th of the Nepali month of Asadh which falls on June 24 this year. But uncertainty looms large in Budhiganga.
All works under the jurisdiction of the elected people’s representatives at the ward and municipal offices have been halted. People like Lohar have been badly affected as they are unable to get services such as verification of relationship certificates and recommendation for citizenship certificates.
Rabindra BK, the chief administrative officer at Budhiganga Municipality, confirmed that all works related to the formulation of development projects, monitoring, recommendation and payment have been halted as of now. “The budget preparation will be hardest hit due to the lack of people’s representatives in the municipality,” said BK. “The annual budget should be presented on June 24. But it is not possible in our municipality.”
Legally, the deputy mayor is the coordinator of the project monitoring committee, which only has municipal workers now due to the lack of people’s representatives. Only a month is left for the new fiscal year to begin but the municipality has not been able to issue payments to various development projects.
During the May 13 polls, the cadres of the Congress and the UML captured some polling booths in their strongholds. Following an investigation, the Election Commission decided to hold reelections in all the wards of the municipality. But the date for the reelection could not be settled at the district level.
On Thursday, the Office of Chief Election Office in Bajura scheduled the date of reelection in Budhiganga Municipality on July 7. An all-party meeting of the representatives of the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, CPN (Maoist Centre) and CPN (Unified Sociologist), chief election officer, chief district officer and chiefs of security agencies held on Thursday agreed to hold reelection on July 7.
The Office of Chief Election Officer held all-party meetings several times but the meetings failed to forge consensus for the reelection. The UML leaders urged to wait for some days as the election-related case is sub judice in the court.
Major political parties, mainly the Congress and UML, had their own strategies regarding the election. UML was in favour of counting the votes cast on May 13 while the Congress was for holding reelection at any cost. Sources familiar with the matter said that Attorney General Khamma Bahadur Khati attempted to conduct reelection apparently to support the Congress’ mayoral candidate Ranga Bahadur Khati while UML’s standing committee member Karna Thapa advocated recognition of the May 13 polls thinking that it would be in favour of UML’s candidate Ram Bahadur Baniya.
Some election booths were captured during the May 13 polls due to security lapses. Following the incident, the Election Commission directed the government to remove the chief district officer and chiefs of Nepal Police and Armed Police Force within three days.