Sunday, also the Nepali New Year, marks a month of Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi’s election government. However, it is yet to announce the date for the Constituent Assembly (CA) polls, leading to a “blame game” among the parties, the Election Commission (EC) and the government.
Though June elections now look difficult and the date is likely to be fixed for November, no one is willing to admit it publicly.
“Election by June is still possible but the Election Commission has to announce an election calendar first,” said Mr. Madhav Paudel, spokesperson for the government.
Speaking to The Hindu, Neel Kantha Uprety, Chief Election Commissioner, countered the claim. “Constitutionally, the government should announce the date,” he said. Mr. Uprety added that the EC was ready to give necessary assistance and that the election calendar can only be finalised once laws are in place.
According to a March agreement , it is the government’s responsibility to fix a poll date, in consultation with the EC. The parties had then expressed commitment to hold elections by June, but included a clause that said it may be deferred until November if necessary.
President Ram Baran Yadav issued two election-related ordinances, including one on the amendment to the Citizenship Act on April 11. However, a crucial Constituent Assembly Member Act has yet to be finalised due to political differences among parties.
The reluctance to announce the date is a part of the government’s strategy to buy time until June elections become impossible, according to former chief of EC Bhojraj Pokharel who oversaw the 2008 Assembly elections. But if the parties, EC and the government never had the intention to hold elections by June, they should have told the people. Not doing so is political deception, he added.