Report BY BISHNU BUDHATHOKI, The Kathmandu Post ( Feb21,2008 edition)
Out of the 74 parties registered at the Election Commission (EC), 37 parties including those in the ruling seven-party alliance submitted closed lists of their candidates at the EC Wednesday for contesting 335 Constituent Assembly seats under the proportional electoral system.
After submission of his party’s closed list, Maoist Chairman Prachanda, flanked by senior party leader Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ and Maoist ministers, told journalists at the EC premises that the CPN-Maoist list has several inclusive features.
“We have allotted around 51 percent of the seats for women, 37.8 percent for ethnic communities including minorities like the Chepangs, 90 seats for Madhesis, 15 percent seats for dalits, 12 seats for candidates from backward regions, and 87 for others, apart from several seats for independent personalities,” he said. However, the Maoists have not met the legal criteria in the case of Madhesi seats which should have numbered at least 104.
Besides the Maoists, major constituents in the coalition government the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, and other parties in the interim parliament Rastriya Prajatantra Party and pro-monarch Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal submitted candidacies for all 335 seats.
Talking to journalists, UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal said his party has submitted a very balanced list in accordance with the electoral law.
He also reiterated that the election should take place on the slated date. When asked about the non-presence of agitating Madhesi parties at the EC for submitting their lists, Nepal said the ongoing dialogue with the Madhesi leaders is heading in a positive direction and hoped they would also take part in the election.
Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel said that if any political party wanted to ensure the people’s rights, it should take part in the election. “If anybody does not want to take part in the election, it is his/her right, but we want to integrate all and take part in the election together,” he added.
Similarly, the ruling CPN (Marxist-Leninist) party led by CP Mainali, Nepal Sadbhavana Party-Anandidevi led by Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Shyam Shundar Gupta, Nepal Workers Peasants Party and People’s Front Nepal submitted the names of 100, 64 and 53
candidates respectively for election under the proportional system.
PM’s name in closed list
Prime Minister and Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala is contesting the April poll under the proportional system. His is the first name in the closed list submitted by the Nepali Congress.
This is the first time the prime minister will be contesting under a proportional system. In the past, Koirala has been elected thrice from his hometown under the first-past-the-post electoral system.
However, none of the agitating parties representing the restive tarai submitted their closed lists.
According to the Election Commission, 37 parties have submitted some 4,000 candidates’ names for the 335 seats.
The interim constitution has arranged for a 601-seat Constituent Assembly, of which 335 members will be elected through the PR system, 240 members through first-past-the-post (FPTP), and the remaining 26 members will be nominated by the prime minister.
The EC has set February 25 as the day for filing the names of candidates under the FPTP system.
NSP-A and Gupta
Amidst serious dispute within the party over whether to take part in the election or not, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Shyam Sundar Gupta submitted the party’s closed list of candidates contesting under the proportional system.
He reached the Election Commission in the afternoon, the national flag fluttering on his official vehicle, and submitted a closed list of 64 candidates. Interestingly, Gupta, who was sacked from the party a few weeks ago by NSP-A Chairperson Anandi Devi Singh, has put Singh’s name at the top of the list.
Meanwhile, issuing a statement Singh denounced the move by Gupta, saying that her party was not in a condition to take part in the election while the entire Madhes was agitating.
Urging the EC not to recognize the name list, she said the “so-called” list with her name at the top produced by Gupta is a fraudulent act of misusing the party flag and election symbol.
NC finalizes list at EC
Nepali Congress party leaders were busy till the 11th hour finalizing their list in a room at the Election Commission.
NC Acting President Sushil Koirala, Vice President and Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel, General Secretary Dr Ram Baran Yadav and NC leader Dr Minendra Rijal reached the EC only after 4:30 pm, using official vehicles, and entered a room where Dr Rijal set to work for nearly two hours. They were the last to submit their finalized list to the EC.
The EC had made the election schedule public on January 13.
Ministers breached code of conduct
Although the EC had enforced the election code of conduct for the government effective from January 16, most of ministers from the Nepali Congress, CPN-Maoist and People’s Front Nepal on Wednesday flouted it right at the EC.
Ministers Ram Chandra Poudel of NC, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Dev Gurung and Pampha Bhusal of the Maoists, Giriraj Mani Pokharel and Sashi Shrestha of People’s Front Nepal and Shyam Shundar Gupta of NSP-A reached the EC to submit the closed lists of their respective parties in official vehicles.
Even the Home Minister’s official vehicle was misused by the NC leaders.
When asked about the violation, Minister Poudel said they were using their official vehicles for official work. “But we won’t use them after tomorrow for election campaigning,” he said. An EC official opined that it would be better if the ministers were serious about the code of conduct.
Despite the request by the EC not to crowd the premises by bringing more than five people to submit the closed lists, none of the ruling parties took heed.
Even Maoist Chairman Prachanda came with a large personnel security detail to file the list. Prachanda was heavily guarded by Maoists combatants while submitting the names.
Candidates contesting under PR
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala
K B Gurung
Bal Bahadur Rai
Purna Bahadur Khadka
Bal Dev Majgaiya
Amrit Kumar Bhohora
Govinda Chaudhary (industrialist)
Prof Krishna Pokharel
Pasang Sherpa (NEFIN Chairman)
Dr Mangal Siddhi Manandhar
Sapana Malla (Pradhan)
Ram Kumar Jhankri
Mohan Baidhya a.k.a Kiran
Netra Bikram Chand
Nanda Kishwor Pun a.k.a. Pasang
Indra Jit Rai
Surya Bahadur Sen Oli
Ram Bahadur Thapa
Krishna Das Shreshta
Lokendra Bahadur Chand
Jog Mehar Shrestha
Bishwo Bandhu Thapa
Balaram Gharti Magar