Local elections in Nepal’s Terai region pass off peacefully
Nepal on Monday held largely peaceful elections to local government bodies in Province no 2, which is considered the Madhesi heartland, with 73% of the voters casting their ballots.
Sporadic scuffles were reported in some districts but the polls were not affected in any way, officials said. More than 60,000 security personnel were deployed across eight districts of Province no 2.
A total of 33 fake voters and 10 others who violate security regulations were arrested, chief election commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav told a news briefing immediately after voting concluded.
The Election Commission put the turnout at 73% and said polls were largely peaceful.
“Over 70% vote cast in Province 2 - by no means a small achievement! Big congrats to ECN staff, security forces, voters of Province 2 & parties,” election commissioner Ila Sharma tweeted.
The voting on Monday largely followed the trend in previous rounds of polls in May and June in the six other provinces, where an average of more than 70% cast their votes.
Since widespread protests erupted in the Terai region over Nepal’s new Constitution in 2015, the area has become the hotbed of Nepali politics. Recent floods in the region bordering India also killed around 130 people.
Monday’s elections are being seen as a litmus test for Nepal’s big political parties, especially the Madhes-based parties.
Top leaders of Madhes-based parties voted in their respective areas. However, Mahanta Thakur, coordinator of the newly formed Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, was unable to vote as he fell ill and was moved to Kathmandu for treatment.
The elections to the local bodies in Province no 2 were another crucial step for implementation of the new Constitution against the backdrop of protests by Madhesi people since September 2015, demanding fair representation of the population of the Terai in state entities and correction of federal boundaries.
The elections went ahead only after Madhes-based parties, including the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, agreed to join the process. They had boycotted the two previous rounds of voting in the other six provinces.
The polls were held to elect 6,636 representatives in 136 local bodies, including one metropolitan city, three sub-metros, 73 municipalities and 59 village councils.
A tough competition is expected among the big parties in Province no 2, while the main opposition CPN-UML is leading in the overall poll results in Provinces no 1, 3,4,5,6 and 7.