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Nepal's by-election acid test for Maoists

Blemished by poor performance, it would be a major political test for the ruling Maoists in Nepal as the Election Commission on Friday announced that the election for the six vacant seats would be held on April 10.

world Updated: Feb 06, 2009 17:04 IST
Anirban Roy

Blemished by poor performance, it would be a major political test for the ruling Maoists in Nepal as the Election Commission on Friday announced that the election for the six vacant seats would be held on April 10.

Bhoj Raj Ghimire, the Chief Election Commissioner said that the by-election in the six constituencies would be held in the first-past-the-post system. The EC has set March 14 as the deadline for filing nomination.

The final list of candidates will be released by the EC on March 19. The by-election Code of Conduct will be applicable to the government from March 14 and the parties have to abide by the rules once they are issued the election symbols.

For the first time in Nepal's electoral history, electronic voting machine at the places where the by-elections will be held.

Though the Maoists won 120 out of the 240 seats in the first-past-the-post system of election last year, it may be extremely difficult for the insurgent-turned political party to register victory in all the constituencies.

Series of political differences with coalition partners, long hours of load shedding and a state of total lawlessness across Nepal has caught the Maoists totally on the back-foot now.

Though the political parties are yet to announce their policies for the by-election, it is believed that the coalition partners are likely to contest individually, and there will no pre-poll alliances.

As five out of the six constituencies are in the Terai region, the Madheshi Janadhikar Forum and the Nepali Congress will have better prospect to register victory. The Maoists may have winning prospect at the constituency in Rolpa district.

Traditionally, the entire Ropla district has been Maoist's stronghold and is the birthplace of Maoist's Peoples' War. In fact, Prime Minister Prachanda had won the election from the constituency.

After registering victory from two constituencies, Prachanda had vacated the Rolpa seat and retained Kirtipur constituency as it is within the Kathmandu valley.