The government somewhat belatedly formed a five-member Constituency Delimitation Commission (CDC) under the chairmanship of Kamal Narayan Das, a former Supreme Court justice, four days ago.
Its responsibility will be to fix boundaries of the electoral constituencies for Parliament and Pradesh Assemblies in all the seven provinces. The constitutional deadline for holding elections to all the three levels of government – central, provincial and local – is 21 January 2018, which is just six months away.
CDC will have to complete its report on the delineation of the constituencies in all the seventy-five districts within twenty-one days from the commencement of its work. The government has lagged behind the date by which the Election Commission had wanted the CDC report to be ready.
Indeed, without its report, any preparations for provincial and parliamentary elections would not be possible. This means there can now be no luxury to waste time – all the requirements for the CDC to start and finish work, including a building, staff and other things such as necessary data, should be fulfilled without delay.
The Constitution lays down clear obligations for CDC regarding how to move ahead with its work – population and geography will be the criteria for deciding representation. It has also specified further factors to be taken into account while carving out electoral constituencies – density of population, geographical specificity, administration and transportation convenience, and community and cultural aspects of the constituencies.
These constitutional provisions clarify the factors that should determine the constituencies which would make the job of the CDC easier. Nonetheless, the task is still daunting given the short time available to do all the work.
The issue of determining the boundaries had long been a contentious issue among the political parties, and, by way of a compromise, it was decided that the task of delineating electoral constituencies would be handed over to an independent commission.
The job of CDC is all the more important because it is the most powerful constitutional commission whose report cannot be amended or revised by the government or Parliament, nor can it be challenged in any court of law.
The Constitution also provides that the constituencies as delineated by the CDC will be intact without any change for the next twenty years. That places an additional burden of responsibility on the new CDC office-bearers as they are expected by the people to make the best possible configurations of parliamentary and provincial constituencies.
Each district will have at least one parliamentary constituency, and further constituencies will be decided according to the factors listed above. There will be 165 parliamentary constituencies, and double that number will be divided among the seven provinces as provincial electoral constituencies.
There will be other additional factors to consider as well, such as avoiding the splitting of wards.
According to Madhav Adhikari, a new CDC member, the team will use the digital data used by the Local Bodies Restructuring Commission, which will only be natural and necessary.
All the political parties should contribute to completing the implementation of the constitution by holding the three tiers of elections within constitutional deadline.
Most contractors stand accused of delay in the conduct of various projects. They always seem to have one excuse or another for not being able to carry them on time even when there is a deadline for which they have committed themselves.
Therefore, the government has warned such erring contractors most of whom who have missed the deadlines set one after the other. The contractors not only fail to perform their assigned task timely but much of their work is shoddy due to lack of adequate monitoring.
Although it is not clear what action the government will take against the defaulters it should act tough.
Meanwhile, the contractors are getting away and are no longer working in many projects including the priority ones. The government at present is seeking the support from the main opposition parties as well as the Madhes-centric parties in order to deal with the culprits who are amassing wealth illegally.
Caution should be exercised when implementing projects linked with roads, electricity, drinking water, telephone and sewage.
The Himalayan Times, July 24, 2017