The third phase of the local level elections in the eight districts of Province 2 were held peacefully Monday. There was an overwhelming participation of the voters who were very enthusiastic. Elections at the local level took place after a hiatus of about two decades which has made the people jubilant as they now will have their elected officials. About 73 per cent of the voters exercised their franchise according to the preliminary data which is very encouraging. The voters turnout could be more. The eight districts of Province 2 has 2,664,950 eligible voters. There are 37,236 candidates vying for the 6,627 posts in one metropolitan city, three sub-municipalities and 73 municipalities of the province. The posts contested are for chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of rural municipalities, mayors and deputy mayors of municipalities, sub-metropolitan city, ward chiefs, ward members, female members and female member from the Dalit community.
Originally the government had announced that the local elections would be held in a single phase on May 14. However, they could not be held due mainly to the protests of the Madhes-based parties demanding that amendments be made to the Constitution. After the Constitution amendment bill was not endorsed by the Parliament, the RJP-N, a unified force of six Madhes-based parties which had been for the amendments decided to take part in the third phase of the local level elections. The RJP-N had not participated in the first and second round of the polls. The first phase of the polls were held on May 14 and the second one on June 28. The successful holding of the third phase of the local elections can be viewed as historic mostly for the people in the Terai region. The voters had participated in the polls enthusiastically in spite of the floods and inundations. Moreover, the participation of the RJP-N is believed to have led to further strengthening democracy in the country by providing the required rights. Moreover, the local elections has resulted in further institutionalising federalism in the country. Now we are headed for the federal and provincial polls that would be held on November 26 and December 7.
The counting of votes is taking place after collection of the ballot boxes from the polling stations reached the offices of the chief returning officers. Consultations are also being held with the political parties as well as other candidates about counting of the votes. Going by past experiences, the Election Commission should ensure the security of the vote counting process too. Since the vote counting takes place very slowly the results of the elections may take many days to come. Hence, the vote counting needs to be expedited and the ballot papers should be kept safe. In any case, now that the people will have their own elected representatives there are high expectations from the peoples’ appointees. These officials should not let the people down and should serve them well while carrying out various local development works. Equipped with the legal authority to do so they would make a difference. So far, only government officials were carrying out the works of the people at the local level, and they lacked accountability. The elected officials at the local level can serve people better as they are acquainted with their needs.
Apex court order
The Supreme Court has issued a mandamus order telling the government to ensure that all hospitals – public or private – have their own pharmacies inside their premises so that patients and their relatives can easily buy the prescribed medicines without paying higher prices. The apex court had issued the order in response to a writ petition filed by Protection of Consumers’ Rights. The court has also asked the government to ensure that those pharmacies will also distribute medicines listed under the “free medicines” category. The government distributes 70 types of medicine free of charge to people who used to get them only from district hospitals and health centres.
The Protection of Consumers’ Rights had to file a writ of public interest litigation after it found during inspections that the private pharmacies leased by the Bir Hospital had been selling medicines at 325 percent higher rate than the actual cost of the medicine and as compared to the medicines sold in the TU Teaching Hospital. The private pharmacies charge more from the clients than the actual cost and in some case they also sell sub-standard or substitute medicines instead of the one prescribed by doctors.
The Himalayan Times, September 20, 2017