Excerpts from an interview with Rajendra Prasad Pandey, head of the Department for Local Government, CPN-UML.
The government has indicated it is willing to talk with the CPN-UML and the Election Commission about an all-party political committee. Would your party agree to an all-party sharing of constituencies?
We met Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in February and requested him to fix a date for local government elections. He told us elections were not possible, and that he would therefore extend the tenure of the local bodies by one year in accordance with the laws. His abrupt decision to dissolve the house came around in May, and was followed by his proposal to create an all-party political committee. In the meantime, he split the Nepali Congress with a plan to place his cadres in the VDCs, DDCs and municipalities, which is against the Election Commission's code of conduct. We have reiterated our demand that the tenure of the local bodies be extended if elections cannot be held. Now the government has made allegations in public that the UML is not cooperating in the creation of a political committee. Creating an all-party political committee is against the code of conduct for elections.
Is it constitutionally right, or possible to hand over the local bodies to the bureaucracy?
Even now we demand that the tenure of the local bodies be extended. It is extremely irresponsible of the prime minister to publicly deny this provision just because UML has a majority at the grassroots level, and for his minister to allege that Bam Dev Gautam has rigged elections. If the government has even a bit of faith in the people, it should allow the local bodies to function.
It is not possible for the bureaucracy to take up the responsibilities of elected people's representatives. Low-level civil servants would not be able to carry out these responsibilities. It would be constitutionally improper to let bureaucracy run the local government, and it isn't right to create a political committee either.