The Election Commission has announced its decision to hold a re-election in Bharatpur Metropolitan City, Ward Number 19 in Chitwan, a week after the ballot papers of this Ward under the first-phase local level election were torn in course of vote counting quoting the RSS source.
The meeting of the Election Commission held today have decided to call a re-poll at Ward No. 19, citing it has been proved the vote counting centre was captured illegally.
A press release issued after the meeting states – “To cancel the voting declaring all the ballot papers with votes at the Bharatpur Metropolitan City, Ward Number 19 in Chitwan polling centre which was affected by ‘capture’ as invalid.
Talking to media persons, Chief Election Commissioner Dr. Ayodhee Prasad Yadav said that a decision has been taken to settle the suspended vote counting programme through voting.
The Election Commission has also decided to direct the Chief Returning Officer of Bharatpur Metropolitan City, Chitwan to make arrangements for holding re-election by fixing the place, date and time for the polling centre where the voting has been cancelled.
Some of the representatives of the candidates the night of May 28 tore 90 ballot papers, counted and uncounted, by entering the vote counting place when counting of votes was underway for Ward No. 19 of Bharatpur Metropolitan City under the first phase local election on May 14.
Seventy ballot papers were torn to the extent that they could not be counted as the swastika marks on the election symbols on the ballot paper were not clear while the marks on 20 ballot papers were discernible and could be read thus eligible for counting.
“While taking the decision in this regard, we have made the Cluse 49 and 50 of the Local Level Laws legislated by the Legislature-Parliament as the basis. We have not made any decision on our own,” the Chief Election Commissioner explained.
A total of 1809 votes of the ward were already counted before the incident. Among 29 wards in the Bharatpur Metropolitan City, vote counts of 27 wards had been completed before the incident.
Instead of sealing 90 ballots torn up on that day, it would be better to conduct the re-election in a coordinal atmosphere by encouraging voters to actively part in the election, he shared his view, adding,” This is a usual process in democracy.”
In his response to a question about the possibility of reaching the decision being based on damaged ballot papers, the CEC said, “There is no possibility to restore some ballots as they were torn into shreds, this is a very complex situation, even a single ballot is very important in democracy and the major question of the hour is how to deal with the torn up ballots.”
The EC had reached to a decision to conduct the re-election of the ward being based on a report along with the attachment of notice of the cessation of vote count sent by the Chief District Election Officer following the incident, a report of a probe team headed by EC Joint Attorney General Geeta Prasad Timsina and the Local Level Election Act.
When we the tally of vote counts done so far, CPN (UML)’s candidate Devi Gyawali and joint candidate from the Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Center) Renu Dahal have a tough competition.
Earlier, the ruling partners NC and CP (MC) and the main opposition UML were giving differing views on how to deal with the situation. Political parties are seemed taking the Bharatpur incident as a matter of pride and dignity and giving differing opinions accordingly. The ruling parties were in favour of the re-election while the main opposition was clamouring for the resumption of vote count.
Among 283 local-levels of 34 districts chosen for the first –round of local-level election, only the Bharatpur Metropolitan City is waiting to see the final results of the election.