Madhes-based parties warn of poll boycott

KATHMANDU, DEC 27 -

At a time when parties are planning to go for Constituent Assembly elections in Baisakh (April-May), Madhes-based parties have said they could take to the streets if the Election Commission (EC) registers in its electoral roll those only having citizenship certificates.

Leaders of the Madhes-based parties maintained that EC’s insistence to have citizenship certificate would force them to “boycott the elections.” Informed leaders claim that insisting on citizenship certificate would

debar thousands of denizens from Madhes.

The Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM), an alliance of five Madhes-based parties, in its nine-point proposal for forging consensus among parties has called for updating the electoral roll of the last Constituent Assembly elections by incorporating currently eligible voters.  

“In the last meeting of the Morcha, that endorsed the nine-point proposal, leaders had suggested boycotting the election, if citizenship certificate was insisted upon,” said General Secretary of Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Sarvendra Nath Shukla.

In November 2010, Madhesh based parties had not only protested but also challenged the move at the Supreme Court when the commission introduced digital voter registration to replace older electoral rolls. The EC had come up with the idea of new electoral roll to avoid both duplication and possible left out to create a basis for free and fair elections. Later, the EC’s nationwide campaign was resumed after the Supreme Court ruled to “register voters only on the basis of citizenship certificates”. Based on the verdict of apex court, the EC has so far registered over 10 million voters under new voter registration process but the Madhes-based parties are apprehensive about the process.

“Many people, who have been living here for generations, have not received citizenship certificate. Even

those who hold received citizenship certificates have problem providing it to their children,” said Shukla.

Madhesi leaders claim around 3.2 million people residing in Madhesh are deprived of the citizenship. The Madhesh-based parties had also protested against the government before the 2008 CA election over the citizenship issue. The election was made possible only after the government distributed around 230,000 citizenship certificates. According to Citizenship Act-2006, those born in Nepal before 1990 will be granted citizenship certificate provided three other holders of the Nepali citizenship vouch for them.

Dipendra Jha, who keeps a close tab on Madhesi affairs, argued that a large number people who have migrated to Gulf countries would be left out from the electoral roll. “They need to be incorporated in the roll,” said Jha. The EC, however, is firm in its campaign with officials there ruling out possibility of backtracking as it was aimed at holding the polls in a free and fair manner. “Necessary procedure needs to be followed to get the citizenship certificate. One cannot obtain it at every nook and corner,” said EC Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav.  

He said the EC is launching its integrated programme targeting those citizens deprived of citizenship certificates. “Providing citizenship certificate is the issue related with the government and parliament. We have consulted even with the PM Baburam Bhattarai and his deputy Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar,” said Yadav.

In February, the Ministry of Home Affairs had issued a circular to the District Administration Office to provide “citizenship by descent” to all children before one of their parents acquired Nepali citizenship. The apex court had stayed the move arguing that a ministerial level meeting alone cannot take a decision on such an important issue.

Meanwhile, the EC, on Wednesday, held discussion with 57 political parties registered with it over ordinance on party registration and code of conduct.

“We are preparing to formulate model code of conduct so that it could be useful for future as well,” said Ayodee Prasad Yadav, an EC commissioner.

Posted on: 2012-12-27 08:18