KATHMANDU, Sept 18: After the successful conclusion of the first and second rounds of local elections, the Election Commission (EC) is conducting the final round of the elections in 136 local units of Province 2 on Monday.
More than 60,000 security personnel have been deployed for election security in the province. The EC said it has completed all necessary preparations. "We are fully satisfied with the preparations. Poll officers are now waiting for voters at the polling centers," said Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav.
During a special press briefing organized in Kathmandu on the eve of the elections on Sunday, the Election Commission said that 31,500 polling officers and poll observers have been deployed at the polling centers. More than 2,100 poll observers are deployed in polling centers of the eight districts of thhe province.
Election commissioners said border points connecting Indian territories have already been closed to avoid any kind of infiltration. The commissioners said the security personnel are well-preparered to deal with any kind of security challenge during the elections. "EC firmly believes that voters will be able to exercise their democratic rights without any fear," CEC Yadav told reporters at the EC headquarters, Bahadur Bhawan.
Previously, the government had announced to conduct local polls across the country in a single phase. The Madhes-centric parties, however, opposed the bid to hold polls in Madhas arguing that constitution should be amended ensuring their greater political influence in the southern region prior to the polls. Considering poll challenges in Madhes, the election body conducted the local elections in two phases in other provinces except for Province 2. A constitution amendment bill brought by the government was rejected by parliament as the bill could not garner two-thirds votes. Later, disgruntled parties agreed to participate in the elections without their demands being addressed.
Monday's elections will elect 6,627 local representatives for 136 local units. A total of 37,236 contestants are vying for the posts of chiefs and members of the local units and ward committees. EC officials said there are a total of 2,664,950 registered voters in Province 2. Of the total seats allocated for local units, eight candidates have already elected unanimously.
The election law has a mandatory provision to field a woman for chief or deputy chief and at least two women candidates - one woman and one Dalit woman - in ward committee. As per the electoral provision, 14,375 candidates are women.
Political observers say the Province 2 local elections will determine the strength of the Madhes-centric parties in the context of the country preparing to conduct the remaining two sets of elections--parliamentary and provincial elections. Also, major parties mainly the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML have made prestige issue of Monday's elections. The main opposition CPN-UML, which has won the most seats in the previous two rounds of the local elections, is also aiming to retain its first position in the province as well.