Deserted Voting Booths of Nepal

By Dinesh Wagle

Very few people are participating in Nepal’s municipal election that is boycotted by political parties.


A man looks for his name in a Voters’ list outside a voting booth in New Baneshwor.

I went around a few voting booths to see how the election process was going on. I saw no people but security personnel on all booths. They were staying idle witht nothing to do. A voting center in New Baneshwor was exception. There were some people! And they were looking for their names on the voters’ list pasted on the wall outside the Cooperative Center. Continue reading Deserted Voting Booths of Nepal

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People Indifferent To Election

By Ujjwal Acharya

‘People are not interested’ is the conclusion after half-a-day monitoring of municipal poll booths in Madhyapur Thimi, Bhaktapur, Nepal

“How many so far?”
“Six, then two– total nine.”

Two-and-half hours after the voting began, a friendly policeman guarding the gate of Adarsha Secondary School, Sanothimi told me. I was with the Kantipur TV crew, and when Jagat Nepal, a reporter with KTV, asked the other policeman on the camera, he told it was 30. The policeman whom I was talking to looked at his senior and smiled mischievously to me. Continue reading People Indifferent To Election

Deserted Voting Booths of Nepal

By Dinesh Wagle

Very few people are participating in Nepal’s municipal election that is boycotted by political parties.


A man looks for his name in a Voters’ list outside a voting booth in New Baneshwor.

I went around a few voting booths to see how the election process was going on. I saw no people but security personnel on all booths. They were staying idle witht nothing to do. A voting center in New Baneshwor was exception. There were some people! And they were looking for their names on the voters’ list pasted on the wall outside the Cooperative Center.

Police and Army were imposing a strict NO ENTRY policy for the press. I, along with Balaram Baniya, a senior reporter with Kantipur daily and secretary at the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) tried to enter inside the voting booth at Maryland School in Tinkune. A policeman asked for my identity card. I told him that I was not going inside to vote but to see what’s happening inside. Well, I could see what was happening inside from where I was standing and talking with the police. There was no one except a few policemen and one or two people in civil dress (and I guess they were election commission officials). I told him that I was not a voter but a reporter and showed him my PRESS identity card. The police said that the press is not allowed inside the voting booth. Without debating further we left the area.


Deserted Road in downtown Kathmandu. Today is a double Nepal Banda in this troubled country. The week-long general strike called by Maoist rebels to foil the election is on its fourth day where as the government has banned driving in the city for today’s election purpose.

Then we went to the voting booth at VS Niketan School in Min Bhavan. Policemen there turned out to be unexpectedly friendly and smiling. They were in good mood though there wasn’t a single person inside the voting center to vote. We told them that we wanted to go inside the booth just to see what was goin on inside. They asked if we were voters. No, we said and told them who we were. “No, we can’t allow you inside,” the policeman politely said.


The lady had gone to caste her vote in the voting center at the Cooperative Center in New Baneshwor with her son and granddaughter. After her identification card (previous voting card) was rejected by the policeman at the gate, she couldn’t enter inside. Here in this photo her son looks the card where as the lady’s granddaughter makes herself more beautiful for the benefit of my camera. A moment ago, her father had notified her that someone was clicking her photos and she was quick enough to do her hair.

One of the policemen asked which paper we were working for. “Did you talk journalism classes in the college?” he asked me. “Yes, I did.” I replied. “In RR College.” Then he became nostalgic. He too was a student of journalism in RR College at the Intermediate level but he never did journalism.

“When did you join the police force?” I asked.

“Four years ago.”

Then another policeman wanted to take part in the conversation.

“By the way, where is your home?” he said thinking that he might be able to suggest me proper voting booth if I wanted to cast my vote.

“Well, I am from outside Kathmandu,” I replied. “Remote area that doesn’t even a municipality. So I have nothing to worry about for votes.”


Young folks look for their names on the voters’ list in New Baneshwor.

Then he asked Balaram’s home. That’s in Tanahun district and there is a municapility. So where was his then?

“In Gorkha,” he said and asked if Balaram had gone to the district naming a few villages. Yes, the reporter had gone to a few places. Gorkha is one of the most affected areas by the Maoists.

“Khai aba yestai ho chunab. Dekhi halnu vo hola ni,” the policeman said rather sarcastically. “Well, this is how an election is like. You are seeing it youself.”


A voting booth has been established in VS Niketan School in Min Bhavan. Government has used many schools in Kathmandu for the election purpose despite the schools refusal to provide venue for the purpose.

We bid him goodbye and went to our next destination: voting booth at Nepal Commerce Campus, Min Bhavan.

“We are here just to see how people are voting,” I said.

“Oh.. people are coming here in big numbers and they are voting enthusiastically,” said a policeman smiling. When he heard his friend replying, another policeman laughed. We too laughed by his style of answering swiftly.

There were no people inside the voting booth and we were the only people in civil dress.

“Well, we would love to go inside and look the voting place,” I tried to read their mind. “No,” the policeman replied politely. “We can’t let you inside.”

Then a policewoman added in a rather authoritative voice: “No entry for the press.” That was that and we had no problem with that. Okay, why debate with a lady. We left the place and headed toward another booth.

When we reached at Cooperative Training Center in New Baneshwor, behind Birendra International Convention Center (BICC) to see a few people curiously looking for their names on the list pasted on the walls. They were curious about voting and wanted to vote.


A Poster issued by the Election Commission that urges people to vote not giving any attention to possible advise by people who are against election.

But many of them were barred entry by the police at the gate for not brining valid voting/identification card. I saw an old woman who had gone to caste her their vote (in Kathmandu in years) with her son and granddaughter. She couldn’t get inside the voting booth because, police told, she wasn’t from the area. Her name was not listed in the voters’ list.

As I was taking pictures and talking to possible voters, a policeman came near the entrance gate and started threatening me. “It would be very bad if you take our pictures. Don’t take any photos of ours,” he warned.

“No, I haven’t taken your photos,” I said.

Then he ordered other people to move away from the gate. We stayed there for a few minutes and left the area. We headed toward another booth at EPS School, Min Bhavan. And there was nothing to see and no one to talk to. The place was literally deserted with a few policemen doing their duties.

People Indifferent To Election

By Ujjwal Acharya

‘People are not interested’ is the conclusion after half-a-day monitoring of municipal poll booths in Madhyapur Thimi, Bhaktapur, Nepal

“How many so far?”
“Six, then two– total nine.”

Two-and-half hours after the voting began, a friendly policeman guarding the gate of Adarsha Secondary School, Sanothimi told me. I was with the Kantipur TV crew, and when Jagat Nepal, a reporter with KTV, asked the other policeman on the camera, he told it was 30. The policeman whom I was talking to looked at his senior and smiled mischievously to me.

The situation is more-or-less similar in all seven voting booths I visited this morning. Even if we believe that it was 30 at that venue (with total of 2,088 voters), it wasn’t a great turnout. At four booths, we weren’t told the number; neither were we permitted to enter the main voting area. At other three, the number we were told were 25 out of 2,961 at Janapremee Primary School, Kaushaltar; 50 out of 1870 at Digu Bhairavstan, Digutol and around 100 out of 2,200 at Health Post, Lokanthali.With six-and-half hours, the number could grow much more (but when the municipal elections were held some six years ago, the first few hours was the most crowded time).

Seeing the indifference among the general public in the neighborhood I live, I don’t think there would be considerable growth.For the first one-and-half hour, I spent my time at the booth five-minute walk from my house which was for the people of my area. During that time I saw around 20 people voting – around 10 of those were relatives to a candidate of ward chairman, six were the government officials and others locals.I was just outside the entrance of the booth guarded heavily by army and police. I asked an official, who was loitering around, if I could vote.

“Is your name on the voters’ list?”
“Yes.”
“Then you can if you have any identification.”
“I have no identification.”
“Student card, citizenship or any other id card?”
“No.”
“Either bring any card or you can’t.”

It was that. I then went to talk with the local leaders who were gathered at the chowk talking. They represented many poll-boycotting parties. They told me about 30 of them went inside the city area shouting slogans. And, told me that there would be around 15 per cent would vote.At Layeku, I saw a van with registration-plate covered completely by paper. The van stopped at the booth for a few minutes and I could see the candidate for mayor and ward chairman (not that ward) in the vehicle. When the van moved, the mayor candidate smiled and greeted the standing people, but didn’t stop.

Our visit at Sanothimi coincided with the inspection visit of district election officer who agreed to talk to the TV. He said the turnout wasn’t as it used to be in earlier elections and hoped the number would increase. He was body-searched by security personnel at the gate. I wondered why a person would bother about answering security queries and letting them search bodies for voting in such a condition.At 2:00pm, the army told the people gathered at the Kaushaltar chowk either to go for voting or go to home. I was talking with three people and an army man walked toward us. We scattered and the army returned to his previous position. At the booth, I could see three girls waiting for the name-looking officer to let them vote.

Images of King’s Municipal Election

Election in Nepal: Burning Tires To Protest The Poll

Election Day Images from Nepal
They Don’t Want Election: Pro-democracy students burnt tires to protest the king’s Municipal Polls in Dilli Bazaar, Kathmandu. Pic by Bikash Karki

Election Day Images from Nepal
General Goes To Cast His Vote: Royal Nepal Army Chief Parajung Thapa gets out his vehicle and heads toward a voting booth in Pashupati Campus to cast his vote in the municipal election. Pic by Shaligram Tiwari Continue reading Images of King’s Municipal Election

Election Day: Kathmandu Silent

By Dinesh Wagle

On the day of municipal election, uneasy ‘peace’ covers Nepal’s capital city

It’s like a double Nepal Banda in Kathmandu today. Today is the fourth day of a week-long Nepal Banda (general strike) called by the Maoists. So there were very few vehicles running in Kathmandu roads in the last few days. Today there are hardly any and those that are running have to show their “This Permit Is Issued To This Vehicle For The Local Election Purpose” card to soldiers and policemen on the roads. So for vehicles its just anther curfew after the government issued a notice restricting driving in the city without permit-cards like that. You can move here and there but can’t drive. You have double orders (from the Maoists and the government) not to do so.

Election process has started but I can hardly see anyone moving around a nearby polling booth. People are afraid of going out. It’s like a dead silent in the city. No sound is coming in from anywhere. Definitely no sign that the city is holding municipal elections.

Images of King’s Municipal Election

Election in Nepal: Burning Tires To Protest The Poll

Election Day Images from Nepal
They Don’t Want Election: Pro-democracy students burnt tires to protest the king’s Municipal Polls in Dilli Bazaar, Kathmandu. Pic by Bikash Karki

Election Day Images from Nepal
General Goes To Cast His Vote: Royal Nepal Army Chief Parajung Thapa gets out his vehicle and heads toward a voting booth in Pashupati Campus to cast his vote in the municipal election. Pic by Shaligram Tiwari

Election Day Images from Nepal
General Is Looking For His Name: Royal Nepal Army Chief Parajung Thapa looks at the voters’ list as his family members look on in a voting booth at Pashupati Campus. Pic by Shaligram Tiwari

Election Day Images from Nepal

No Voters: A voting booth at the Agriculture Company Ltd., Kuleshwor at 9:30 AM. It was almost empty and very few people turned up to cast their vote. Pic by Shaligram Tiwari

Election Day Images from Nepal
A Marriage Not To Be Forgotten Easily: Two newly married couples return back home from Ghujeshwori Temple after participating in marriage ceremonies at Dhumbarahi. The city transportation was closed both on rebel Maoists orders for Nepal Banda (general strike) and the government’s ban on driving for the Election Day. Pic by Shruti Shrestha

Election Day Images from Nepal
No Election: Pro-democracy activists protest the municipal election in Thimi, Bhaktapur saying that the king wanted to hold the poll to legitimize his autocracy. Political parties have called for election boycott. Pic by Shruti Shrestha

Election Day Images from Nepal
First Democracy, Then Election: Founding president of the Ilam branch of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) shouts slogans from inside a police van after being arrested for taking out a pro-democracy rally in Ilam headquarters. Pic by Benup Raj Bhattarai

Election Day Images from Nepal
Police highhandedness in Kalaiya, Bara district in a demonstration. Pic by Shankar Acharya

Election Day Images from Nepal
Police arrested 12 people from a pro-democracy demo by seven agitating political parties. Armed police intervened into the rally immediately after it was started. But the participants took out torchlight rallies from different parts of the town. Police beat Gopal Dewanaj, secretary of the Sunsari district branch of Nepal Jana jaati Mahashangh. Pic by Raju Ghishing

Election Day Images from Nepal
We Don’t Need Election: Activists associated with seven agitating political parties took out rallies protesting municipal polls in Biratnagar. About 1 hundred and 37 activists were arrested by police on Wednesday. Pic by Arjun Pokharel

Election Day Images from Nepal
Voting For Democracy? After the municipal candidates spread a rumor about army taking action against anyone who fail to go to voting booths to caste their vote (and an award of Rs. 1 thousand for those who cast their vote), people thronged into the voting booths of Dailekh’s Narayan Nagar Municipality. But many of them said that they have cancelled their ballot paper by casting their votes to their favorite agitating pro-democracy political parties. Pic by Harihar Singh Rathour

Election Day Images from Nepal
No Election!: Agitating students stage a protest program against the municipal election at Dhilibazar, Kathmandu. Pic by Bikash Karki

Election Day: Kathmandu Silent

By Dinesh Wagle

On the day of municipal election, uneasy ‘peace’ covers Nepal’s capital city

It’s like a double Nepal Banda in Kathmandu today. Today is the fourth day of a week-long Nepal Banda (general strike) called by the Maoists. So there were very few vehicles running in Kathmandu roads in the last few days. Today there are hardly any and those that are running have to show their “This Permit Is Issued To This Vehicle For The Local Election Purpose” card to soldiers and policemen on the roads. So for vehicles its just anther curfew after the government issued a notice restricting driving in the city without permit-cards like that. You can move here and there but can’t drive. You have double orders (from the Maoists and the government) not to do so.

Election process has started but I can hardly see anyone moving around a nearby polling booth. People are afraid of going out. It’s like a dead silent in the city. No sound is coming in from anywhere. Definitely no sign that the city is holding municipal elections.