Nepal under pressure to issue another 3 million citizenships in Madhesh

PM asks EC Chief to explain his remarks on voters’ list 

Citizenship is the only credible basis for electoral roll: EC Chief





Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on Tuesday asked Acting Chief Election Commissioner Nilkantha Upreti to explain his remarks that the electoral roll used during the 2008 Constituent Assembly election had listed 25 to 30 percent more voters than the actual number of eligible voters.


The prime minister’s move follows a strong objection from the Madhes-based parties over Upreti’s remarks on Monday.


Upreti, however, defended his remarks saying that his claims were based on EC study reports and in the absence of any other document citizenship is the only credible basis for new electoral roll. As a head of a constitutional body, the chief election commissioner is outside the purview of the government.


“We strongly believe that citizenship can be the only credible basis for preparing new electoral rolls. But if the government can give us any other credible basis, we are ready to accept it,” Upreti told the Post.


The Madhes parties, who have demanded that citizenship should not be the basis for preparing new electoral roll, have been obstructing the EC project to update the electoral rolls. Upreti, however, said that the electoral roll project was started with the consent of the political parties, including the Madhes-based ones. On Tuesday, the leaders of Madhes-based parties had asked the prime minister to inquire the EC over the media reports that quoted Upreti, saying that the old roll was found to have listed around 5 million voters than actual.


Upreti said the old list showed a higher number of voters because of multiple voter registration of a single person, and failure to delete the dead and those who had migrated to another country, and were listed based on fake citizenship.


According to EC records, out of the total 17.9 million voters listed in the old roll, only 10.5 million voted, which Upreti said, is an indication that the roll had listed more names than actual.


The Madhes-based parties have warned that they would not accept the new list unless it is prepared after distributing citizenship in Tarai through yet another campaign.


Home Ministry officials say that a new citizenship campaign in such a short span of time will have serious implications on the national security. The government had distributed 2.6 million citizenships through a nationwide door-to-door campaign before the electoral rolls was prepared for 2008 CA polls.  


The Madhes-based parties have demanded that the old list prepared before the 2008 CA polls should be the main basis for the new electoral roll instead of citizenship.


Upreti, however, questioned the rationale: “Why should we prepare a new electoral roll if we are to copy and paste the same old list?”


Madhes-based parties, however, argue that there should be no problem in making the old roll a basis if the EC is to prepare the new roll with photo of each individual. “Besides, if citizenship has to be the basis, the government should first issue a public notice asking people to take citizenships before preparing a new electoral roll,” said Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato. He also argued that since the information collected for the new roll is going to be used in issuing national ID cards, it must be prepared after distributing citizenship to those who have not acquired it yet.

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