April Analysis: Federalism

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Timeline of Major Events

DateEvent
April 3Including SSP, 32 individuals were honoured for having shown active involvement in drug control in Saptari district.   Land ownership certificate distribution to the Dalit landless community has been started from Sindhuli District.
April 5Madhes provincial government has declared 11 days added public holidays than the allocated public holidays by the federal government.
April 7Advocate Govinda Bandi has been appointed Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs
April 8During the cabinet reformation of Sudhur Paschim province, Minister Taralal Tamang of the Economic Affairs and Planning Ministry was relieved from his post and replaced by Minister Prakash Rawal.
April 9Nepal Rastra Bank’s Governor, Maha Prasad Adhikari Suspended
April 15CIAA has filed a corruption case against the acting ward secretary and 10 others from Mohanyal village municipality of Kailali, Sudhurpaschim province.
April 19A corruption case has been filed against the province secretary of Butwal, Lumbini Province, Baikuntha Adhikari and 4 others at the Special Court.

Electoral alliance at the local level

The parties, in both the ruling alliance and in the opposition, had committed to working toward making the coalition with their respective allies effective in as many local bodies as possible. However, electoral coalitions couldn’t materialize in quite a lot of local bodies. Only in about twelve of seventy-seven districts, the ruling alliance could forge an electoral coalition at all the local levels. The coalition at various local levels seemed to be either in dilemma or broken as the distribution of seats among the various parties raised conflict and indecision. This is evident from the fact that the coalition in most of the local bodies required sustained efforts till the last minute to materialize.  In districts like Rolpa, Humla Dailekh, and Hetauda among others, the five parties’ electoral coalition got dismissed due to the disagreements among the parties for the mayoral seat. The sharing of seats as the only concerning issue for the parties in coalitions is reflective enough of the fact that the only objective of electoral alliances is to win elections rather than represent people with the best intentions.

 The deadline for the submission of candidacy was April 25, 2022; and over 100,000 thousand candidacies were filed.

Photo: Reuters

Notion of decentralization in limbo

The central authority of each party has intervened to select a consensus candidate in almost all the metropolitan and sub-metropolitan cities which in itself is against the essence of decentralization and local polls. The role of the central authority of each party in forging coalitions also caused interparty and intraparty disputes. The local units of parties felt that impositions of the centre’s decisions could encumber the prospects of electoral successes. The five-party ruling alliance has divided seats amongst themselves in 17 major cities—6 metropolitan cities and 11 sub-metropolitan cities – with a consensus among top leaders. However, in those cities, the local units of the parties seem unsatisfied with the decisions of the parties’ top leaders.  For instance, the ruling alliance’s decision to give the mayoral position of the Janakpurdham sub-metropolitan city and Birgunj submetropolitan city to the candidate of the People’s Socialist Party has left Congress dissatisfied – and the case is similar in Pokhara Metropolitan City. This has led to protests by the Nepal Congress local leaders and cadres in each of those local bodies. Thus, while the formation of an electoral coalition and selection of the candidates, in theory, were left at the local discretion, the unfolding coalition politics revealed the centralized nature of Nepali politics.

Voters increased throughout the country

Voters throughout the nation have increased by almost 45 lakhs compared to the last local election. 2017 election registered 1 crore 54 lakh voters, whereas the upcoming election, although the election commission has not received full numbers from all the district election offices, till date accounts for 1 crore 84 lakh voters. The increase in voters can be reasoned with the marriages bringing in an additional female population, citizens returning from abroad who have shown more interest in registering on the voters’ list than in prior elections, and also because many citizens are now more aware of their voting rights. The addition of voters not only shows the interest of the citizens to participate in electing deserving candidates but also brings changes regarding the addition of polling stations, security challenges to manage the additional voting population, increased mobilization of security forces, and increased monitoring of the polling station and maintaining transparency. 

Election security and deployment of security forces

According to the election security report submitted by the security committees on April 12 representing all the provinces, Madhes province is reported to be the most sensitive with 1065 polling stations labelled as highly sensitive. Lumbini ranks the second province with 344 polling stations as highly sensitive and the least sensitive being the Gandaki Province. Consequently, the report has stated that 2,946 polling stations are highly sensitive, 4,423 are sensitive and 3,387 are less sensitive nationwide. It is provided that the security challenges will be mitigated and forces will be deployed to the polling stations according to the report. The election commission has also issued Election Security (Directives), 2022, to manage, direct and supervise the challenges foreseen in the upcoming elections. A total of 168000 security forces are to be deployed to maintain fairness, transparency, protection and security in the polling stations.

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