Provincial and parliamentary elections have been announced for November 26 to meet the constitutional deadline of holding the elections to all three tiers of government – central, provincial and local – before January 21, 2018. The third-phase local level elections, which had been deferred citing the request of the Madhesi Morcha, now regrouped into the Rastriya Janata Party – Nepal, are scheduled for September 18. The RJP-N has been given much importance whatever its voter base in the Tarai, particularly Pradesh No. 2. The second constitution amendment bill, which had been prepared and tabled in Parliament to appease RJP-N, fell short by 48 votes to clear the parliamentary hurdle of a two-thirds majority. Though the formal decision whether to take part in the elections has yet to be taken by RJP-N, there does not seem to be a democratic alternative to participation. Moreover, all those who believe in democracy, elections, people’s mandate and the functioning of democratic processes, should accept the people’s verdict and the results of democratic processes whether things have turned in their favour or not.
Now all eyes and efforts of the country should be focused on completing the remaining elections to put the new Constitution into full practice. The Election Commission has said that the local level elections will be held despite the havoc created by the floods or any other difficulty. There is not much time to spare for the Election Commission and the government to hold elections on time. The third-phase local-level election in Pradesh No. 2 is round the corner, less than a month away. And there is three months available for the provincial and parliamentary elections, but the intervening Dashain-Tihar holidays will take at least three weeks. So time is at a premium. Indeed, the announcement of the simultaneous provincial and parliamentary elections has been made according to an agreement reached between the ruling coalition and the main opposition party. As for EC, it had initially recommended the simultaneous holding of the elections to the two tiers of government but in two phases on November 20 and December 7.
Though holding of the local-level election itself has not been prevented by any lack of law but in the discharge of the local governments a lack of laws has been a sticking point. The government and the parliament concerned should make no further delay in making these laws; otherwise, the performance of the local bodies will be seriously affected. As for the provincial and parliamentary elections, laws related to them have to be passed and related rules and regulations made, apart from constructing much physical infrastructure, particularly for the seven Pradesh governments to function. The EC has asked the government to pass all those laws and provide the report of the Constituency Delimitation Commission by August-end, which is in itself an extended deadline. Otherwise, it would be increasingly difficult to hold provincial and parliamentary elections on time. Any extension of the election date would not be feasible because of the high winter season, thereafter, as well as the constitutionally specified time-limit.
Home-stay facilities have proved to be a boon since it was initiated three years ago. In Kalabang of Pumdibhumdi in Kaski, for instance, it has succeeded in retaining youths from going abroad in search of work as home-stay has proved to be feasible as an income generating activity. Apparently, home-stay is working and this campaign is paying off. On an average 200 visitors avail of these facilities every month. Domestic visitors are required to pay Rs. 1,150 per day for two meals and a breakfast while foreign guests are required to pay up to Rs.1,850 for the lodging facilitates and food. Kalabang is located at height of 1,450 metres and is 12 kilometres away from Pokhara. What lures visitors and tourists to stay there is that it provides a scenic view of mountains and also the Phewa Lake, of Pokhara City.
Things have changed since the home-stay facilities have come into effect. The campaign also seeks to improve the quality of education being provided for children. Previously government schools saw a lot of students, but this is no longer the case. The schools are found merging for want of students. Meanwhile, 18 of the 250 houses in Kalabang are providing the home-stay facilities.
The Himalayan Times, August 23, 2017