It has been 18 years since the local elections were held in the country. Following the expiry of the five-year term of the elected representatives in 2002, the local bodies have been without people’s representatives for almost 14 years. The governments in the past tried to hold the local elections but in vain due mainly to the conflict and differences among the political parties. As a result, the local bodies, which are the bases for democratic exercise, have been in a mess. The VDC secretaries have been running the overall administrative and development activities at the grassroots over the years. However, the secretaries are hardly available in the villages and also not accountable to the people like the elected representatives of the people. Thus, people have been facing a lot of inconveniences as they are unable to locate the secretaries in the VDC offices. Consequently, corruption and mismanagement have become rampant in the local bodies while development activities have been stalled in the absence of elected representatives at the local level.
The political parties are well aware about the anomalies prevalent in the local bodies and have been stressing the need for holding the local elections to curb them. The political parties, during the Constituent Assembly elections of 2013, had shown their commitment to holding the local polls within six months of the CA elections. But the commitment disappeared into thin air when the UCPN-Maoist opposed the idea after it faced a humiliating defeat in the CA polls. It was unfortunate that the partisan interest of a political party should prevent the local elections and deprive the people at the grassroots from exercising their democratic rights.
The present government, like the previous ones, has been stressing the need for holding the local elections at the earliest possible so that the stalled development activities at the local level could resume through the participation of the people. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Local Development Kamal Thapa the other day announced that the government would hold the local elections soon. While inaugurating the bi-annual review seminar of the Eastern Development Region in Biratnagar, DPM Thapa said that the ruling parties have agreed to hold the local body elections, and discussion with the main opposition, the Nepali Congress, was underway. He also asked the employees working in the local bodies to be ready to hand over their responsibilities they were handling for 13 years to the people’s representatives.
The views expressed by the DPM clearly suggest that the government is committed to holding the local elections. Now when the country has succeeded in promulgating the new constitution and the transition phase is in its final stage, holding the elections is essential to activate the local bodies and engage the people in the development process through their representatives. An election is a powerful democratic exercise, and no political party should try to obstruct it by opposing or trying to foil the local polls as in the past. The government should also not delay in making preparations to hold the crucial elections while the people should be ready to cooperate with the government to hold the polls.