BIRATNAGAR, Sept 24: VDC Secretaries´ Rights and Welfare Protection Centre has asked the government to hold local body elections simultaneously with Constituent Assembly (CA) polls. The centre on Saturday announced a series of protest programs to pressure the government for holding fresh elections to local bodies.
At a press conference organized Saturday in Biratnagar following a two-day gathering of all VDC secretaries of 22 districts east of Chitwan, the centre asked the government to hold the local body elections simultaneously with Constituent Assembly (CA) polls.
“Since all major political parties have already decided to go for elections, the local body polls can also be held at the same time,” said Damodar Rijal, president of the centre. “Separate ballots can be placed beside the ballots for the CA polls. This is the most cost-effective way to hold the local body polls.”
According to Rijal, all VDC secretaries will join the protest programs from Sunday in a bid to exert pressure on the government to hold the local body elections. “In the first phase of our agitation, the local people will not be affected as we plan to stage peaceful sit-ins and rallies,” he said. “If the government does not pay attention to our demand, we will then be compelled to halt all services.”
VDC secretaries have asked the government to set up an alternative mechanism, consisting of local representatives, if the fresh poll for local body is not possible soon.
VDC secretaries say they are compelled to press for elections as they have been at the receiving end of all kinds of allegations of mismanagement and corruption in the absence of elected representatives. The local bodies have been functioning without elected-representatives for almost a decade now.
All-party mechanism, a voluntary committee comprising of local leaders representing all political parties, facilitated development works in absence of elected representatives until last year. However, it was scrapped by the government amidst allegations of widespread corruption.
However, VDC secretaries allege that local leaders who were part of such mechanisms still wield great influence in local development works without having to be accountable to anybody.
VDC secretaries say they have been forced to face charges of issuing citizenships to non-Nepali nationals. According to the centre, 163 secretaries have been punished so far and the number could go up.
The VDC secretaries accuse the local administrations of singling them out in a process in which the roles of other government officials, too, are equally important.