By Deepak Kumar Nayak*
On May 13, 2022, at least two people were killed and 24 were injured in four incidents of poll-related violence in different parts of the country. Some of the day’s notable incidents included:
- A youth, identified as Bir Bahadur Katuwal (18), was killed and another was injured in police action after a dispute between two candidates escalated in the polling center of the Voting of Kalika Secondary School in Katari-10 Municipality of Udayapur District in Province No 1.
- A 35-year-old man, identified as Sudip Rai, died in a violent clash between militants of the Nepalese Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Center (CPN-Maoist Center) in Sotang Rural Municipality-3, in the Solukhumbu District of Province No. 1.
- Fifteen people were injured in the head in a clash that erupted during polling at Kharidi Primary School in Gadhimai-3 Laxmipur Township, Rautahat District of No 2 Province. took place after a dispute between two parties during the vote.
- Eight people, including a polling official, were injured in clashes that erupted at two polling stations at Mahadev Secondary School in Chakheli-2 Rural Municipality in Humla District of Province No. 6.
In addition, between February 7, 2022, the day the local body elections were announced, and the day before the polls on May 13, 2022, at least 37 people were injured in three separate incidents of clashes/violence reported across the country. .
Some of the major incidents reported during this period included:
May 11: More than 20 people were injured in a clash between NC and CPN-Maoist Center cadres in Bhorle in Nilkantha-6 Township in Dhading District of Province No. 3. Interestingly, an electoral alliance was forged between the NC, the CPN-Maoist Center, and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Socialist (CPN-Unified Socialist) in the district.
May 11: A bomb exploded at Milanchowk in Butwal in Rupandehi District of Province No. 5. Although no one claimed responsibility, a pamphlet bearing the name CPN-Maoist Center was found at the scene, in which people were asked to boycott the local elections.
May 6: More than a dozen police officers and five cadres of the NC and the CPN Socialist Unity Party were injured when their cadres clashed at Pandusen in Budhinanda Township of Bajura District in Province No. 7.
The second local body elections were held in a single phase on May 13, 2022 to elect 35,221 members in 753 local-level units in six metropolitan cities, 11 sub-metropolitan cities, 276 municipalities and 460 rural municipalities.
Significantly, the 2015 Constitution of Nepal instituted a three-tier federal structure, with each of the federal, provincial and local units operating independently.
It is useful to recall here that the first local elections after the promulgation of the new Constitution of 2015, elections were held in three phases on May 14, June 28 and September 18, 2017.
Between the date of the announcement (20 February 2017) and the last election day (18 September 2017)]of the first local body elections, 11 people were killed and 97 were injured in 19 separate incidents of clashes/violence reported across the country.
Meanwhile, according to Electoral Commission (EC), so far (data as of May 30, 2022), 35,045 people’s representatives have been elected. The results of 176 seats were yet to come. The NC had the maximum number of people’s representatives, at 13,758; followed by the United Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-UML), 11,893; CPN-Maoist Centre, 5,045; Janata Samajbadi-Nepal Party (JSP-N), 1,539 and other parties and independents, 2,810.
While political violence itself represents a dangerous trend, clashes between members of the Five-Party Joint Power Alliance, which includes the NC, CPN-Maoist Centre, CPN-Socialist Unity, Janata Samajbadi Party -Nepal and Rastriya Janamorcha, do not bode well. for the overall politics and security of Nepal. Significantly, despite being in government, these parties failed to forge an overall alliance and stand together in the elections. On April 25, 2022, the Minister of Urban Development and leader of the CPN-Unified Socialist, Ram Kumari Jhakri, wrote on Twitter,
The [electoral] the alliance has not been satisfactory and respectful. We failed to create a cordial atmosphere even among the member parties of the alliance. There was a display of arrogance [by alliance partners] during the talks. In the meantime, after listening to the expressions of some of the leaders of the coalition, it seems that one day we will have to settle our accounts with them. That’s it.
Violent clashes between members of these groups in the elections could lead to a further weakening of the alliance and the collapse of the Center government, which has never been in a stable state since it came to power on July 13. 2021. Further destabilization could create serious security concerns for the country, as fringe extremist elements continue to threaten to resort to violence, and are likely to act on their warnings if a sufficiently “conducive” environment is created due to fractional parties operating within the constitutional mandate.
*Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Associate, Conflict Management Institute