Kathmandu, Nepal: The successful conduction of the first phase of local elections, held on 281 local units of 34 districts in provinces 3, 4 and 6 after a long hex of uncertainty, has paved the way for the second round polls scheduled on June 14 and the remaining two tiers of elections too even by taking into confidence the agitating Madhes-based parties.
Except for sporadic incidents of violence in some polling centers, the first round of elections remained peaceful and enthusiastic with a massive level of voter participation.
Not only the younger generation but also the elderly people, people with disability and those mourning the deaths of their family members had actively participated in the elections to cast their vote to elect their own representatives to run their local units.
Voter turnout was also remained encouraging. According to the officials at the Election Commission (EC) voter turnout percent was about 73 percent, which was out of the expectations for the EC. There were a total of 4,956,925 registered voters for the first phase of local level elections out of the 14,054,482 eligible voters across the country.
The highest at 82 percent was in Rasuwa district. Similarly, Bhaktapur, Gorkha and Dolpa districts are the other districts where the percentage of the ballots cast was over 80 percent. Ramechhap was the only district that saw the lowest participation of voters but there was no district that saw less than 60 percent turnout.
Some sporadic incidents of violence had forced the EC to postpone the vote in three polling centers-- Namobuddha Municipality-4 of Kavrepalanchok district, the Balachaur School-based polling centre at Kalika Village Council of Kalikot district and the Satyaswori Secondary School-based polling centre at Melung Village Council in Dolakha district.
A person was killed in police firing at Melung. The incident had happened when a group of people vandalized the polling booth and attempted to loot ballot papers and boxes, claims the EC officials. Though the sporadic incidents of violence were itself obnoxious, it is not astonishing one compare to the previous elections.
Following the success of the first phase of elections, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Ayodhee Prasad Yadav seems optimistic for the success of the second phase of local elections which is going to take place in the local federal units of 41 districts in provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7 on June 14.
The active participation of people in the first phase of elections will encourage voters for the second phase of elections, CEC Yadav had said in the press conference after the completion of the first phase of elections on Sunday.
Not only the CEC Yadav and the people in general seem optimistic for the success of the remaining elections but those who were spreading rumors against of the elections have begun to present positively in favor of the future elections.
Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), a newly formed unified force of six Madhes-based parties, which earlier vehemently objected to local polls and announced to disrupt them, has now hinted to participate in June 14 polls.
As neighboring India seems to have changed the track in favor of the elections, the RJPN has also shown its positive gesture to participate in the second phase of elections even though the party has yet to take a formal decision to the effect.
During a meeting with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Monday, the RJPN leaders had shown positive gesture to participate in the second phase of elections.
According to a reliable source, India is encouraging the political parties particularly the Madhes-based parties to soften the stances on constitution amendment and polls.
During the meeting with RJPN leaders, Prime Minister Dahal had assured that he will take the constitution amendment bill forward before stepping down from the government.
As India had for long been maintaining that there should be broader acceptance of the constitution for which the demands of the Madhesi and other marginalized groups need to be addressed, the Madhes based parties were up in arms against of the constitution and lately the local level elections.
Though Madhes-based parties have still been hesitating to come up openly in favor of the elections they would not miss chance of participating in the second phase of local level elections even if the constitution was not amended immediately as per their demands, claims a source close to the agitating Madhes based parties.