If the Election Commission (EC) has its way all the political parties and organizations will no longer be allowed to host tea receptions during the festivities. It is difficult to understand how such receptions could affect the holding of provincial and parliamentary elections in a manner which is free, fair and impartial. Such tea parties have been staged since 1976 by the late Nepali Congress leader B. P. Koirala. Since then such tea parties have been held by other political parties. Even the Maoists held such parties since they returned to the peace process. Former prime ministers Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and Girija Prasad Koirala also hosted similar gatherings after the late Nepali Congress leader Ganesh Man Singh. The UML leader Man Mohan Adhikary carried on with this tradition after the restoration of multiparty democracy in 1990. The purpose to host such receptions was mainly to generate goodwill among the political parties and the people from different walks of life. These gatherings had succeeded in creating bonhomie among those participating in the receptions which was the prime intention for hosting tea parties by the political parties. Barring the political parties from hosting such tea parties does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Election Commission as such gatherings are not harmful in any way.
Meanwhile, although the EC has directed the government to not transfer the under secretaries, first class gazette officers and clerks of the government for they could impact the elections the EC consecutively has transferred three EC secretaries after the Election Code of Conduct came into effect. Moreover, the EC said nothing when 197 judges were transferred when the third phase of local level polls were underway. Also the EC is mum even after Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba expanded his cabinet that are seen to be polls code violations. Deuba has expanded his cabinet now beating all records. These sorts of maneuvering can be taken as attempts to win in the elections and gain advantages. It is not understood why the EC permitted the jumbo cabinet. The cabinet has been expanded to serve the interests of the various political parties taking part in the polls.
The EC should come up with the rationale for not permitting the holding of tea parties which bore positive results in Nepal’s politics. Although it preaches austerity the EC is all set to purchase more luxury vehicles for its commissioners. It is believed that the five commissioners already have three vehicles each. These cars cost Rs. 20 million each. Such spending has met opposition from the common people many of whom lead impoverished lives in this least developed country. The conduct of the EC should be thoroughly scrutinized for they are responsible for holding the provincial and federal polls too. Therefore, the cancellations of the tea parties to be hosted by the political parties call for an explanation. This is because these gatherings have served useful purposes by uniting the various political leaders. As the nation is holding the all important elections this calls for drastic measures to ensure that they will be held successfully.
The government-owned Nepal Drug Limited (NDL) is going to increase production of Jeevan Jal, an oral dehydration solution, to meet its growing demand across the country. The NDL was shut down eight years ago after it could not operate properly for want of funds. NDL officials said that there is a demand of one lakh packets of Jeevan Jal per week. However, the drug company has been able to produce only 10,000 packets of the oral dehydration solution per week. It means that the pharmaceutical company needs to increase its capacity by adding more equipment, raw materials and able human resources.
Jeevan Jal is highly useful to control diarrhea and dysentery, the main causes of child mortality rate in rural areas where people are not health conscious. They do not have an easy access to health facilities. The oral dehydration solution is distributed to people free of cost and it is also available in all drug stores even in rural areas. It must be made available in every nook and corner of the country to save lives of children and the elderly suffering from controllable diseases which mostly takes place after people consume dirty/contaminated water and unhygienic food. The move is a welcome step.
The Himalayan Times, September 22, 2017
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