KATHMANDU, Aug 8: The government and the Election commission (EC) have started discussion on the possibilities of conducting the elections of the House of Representatives and Province Assembly in a single go. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, last month, had proposed the EC to hold both elections in a single stage saying that the constitutional deadline concluding all the elections was fast approaching. Election experts have also seconded the idea as holding both elections on the same day would considerably reduce election cost. Meanwhile, the EC, saying that there are constitutional and logistics challenges, have argued that it would be difficult to hold two polls together.
Here is an excerpt of the interview between Chief Election Commissioner Dr Ayodhee Prasad Yadav and senior journalist Rishi Dhamala.
What discussion took place between the EC and the Prime Minister regarding the conduction of Province and Federal election?
We have requested PM Deuba to immediately announce the date for the election House of Representatives. PM has also assured us that he would not make any delays in fixing date.
Has the EC urged the PM to fix the date within 10 days?
Yes, we have. We have told the PM that announcing the date would ease election process.
What will happen if the government delays the announcement of poll date?
Like I said, fixing date would help minimizing the difficulties regarding the election process. I hope the PM will announce date without any delay.
Laws related to election are yet to be finalized yet. In such condition, how, only fixing date of polls will minimize difficulties?
The bills related to the election of the House of Representatives and the province assembly is under clause-wise discussion in the State Affairs Committee. The Committee will see deliberations and reach to a conclusion very soon. Likewise, the Constituency Delimitation Commission is also working on the determination of the number of constituencies. The EC will do from its side if date is announced.
What does the EC need instantly?
Laws related to election, date and understanding among the political parties.
The government is exploring the possibilities of conducting both elections in a single go. What is the EC’s view on this?
It can be impossible. But neither the government nor other authorities have told the EC that both elections are being held together.
What about the political discussion on holding both elections together to complete all elections in given time frame (January 21, 2018)?
I have also argued that the government should meet the conditions forwarded by the EC if both elections are to be held in a single stage.
Is it possible?
Yes, it is possible. It is in practice around the globe. We have not done it in Nepal yet. But till today, no official declaration of holding both Federal and Provincial election together has been made.
If the government makes official announcement, will the EC be ready?
Let the government announce first. Then the EC will give its official opinion in this regard.
Hasn’t the government and the EC discussed about conducting both election together yet?
This topic has entered discussion. But the problems are not only with the EC. Participating political parties, leaders, candidates and voters must also feel comfortable.