Parties opposed to the elections under the government headed by Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi have continued to protest, further jeopardising plans to hold Constituent Assembly elections by June.
The most forceful opposition has come from the breakaway Maoist party, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), headed by Mohan Vaidhya Kiran, which has declared it will obstruct government’s voter registration drive to thwart the election.
Local media has reported on a daily basis this week that the CPN-Maoist cadres seized laptops and cameras used by the Election Commission officials for voter registration in several districts. The party also announced on Monday a ten-day protest programme culminating with a national shutdown (Nepal banda ) on April 7.
Though no party leader has said it publicly, several leaders The Hindu spoke to said that they felt it will be postponed. The Election Commission’s newly-elected Chief Commissioner said on Tuesday that they would prefer to set a “realistic” date to avoid postponing the elections.
No common ground
Besides the breakaway Maoists, opposition has also come from the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum-Nepal, Federal Socialist Party and more than two dozen smaller parties.
“Our first demand is that Regmi should resign as Chief Justice,” said Upendra Yadav, Chairman of the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum-Nepal, “we’re not as hardliner as Mr. Baidya’s [Kiran’s] party, who wants the Regmi government replaced”.
Though the opposing parties have not coalesced around a single agenda, demands include that electoral constituencies be delineated according to the latest census results; and that the number of seats marked for marginalised groups ensures proportional representation in the new Assembly to write Nepal’s constitution.
But the parties opposed to elections under present government differ on the path forward. While the breakaway Maoist party demands a roundtable comprising of all political forces, the Federal Socialist Party — composed primarily of the Aadivasi Janajatis who previously belonged to the CPN-UML — want the lapsed Constituent Assembly revived.