KATHMANDU, June 5: UCPN (Maoist), one of the main political parties, is unlikely compromise on its opposition to the proposal barring election candidates with criminal backgrounds.
Rejecting the proposal advanced by the Election Commission after consultations with the political parties, the Maoists argued that this is something that relates to the truth and reconciliation commission and can affect the whole peace process. As no Maoist leader would be safe if the provision is implemented, the possibility of the Maoists compromising on this issue is very slim.
The Election Commission proposed that persons convicted for criminal offenses or accused of moral turpitude should be barred from filing candidacy and allowed to contest elections only six years after completing their sentences handed down by courts of law or other judicial authorities.
According to the EC proposal, a person who has been convicted of murder, theft, robbery, foreign currency offence, kidnap, rape, corruption, human trafficking, money laundering, banking irregularities, passport misuse, drug trafficking, jailbreak or abetting jail break, smuggling of protected fauna or flora or objects of archeological importance, illegal trade or spying, among other illegal activities, or has shown moral turpitude, cannot be a member of any political party unless he or she has completed the sentences handed down by a court or any other judicial authority.
“Re-opening old wounds will be like opening a Pandora"s Box and the consequences will be unmanageable,” Hita Raj Pande, UCPN (Maoist) central office secretary, told Republica. He also argued that the proposal is against holding elections, saying that the debate is "for" election versus "anti" election.
“The proposal tends towards not holding the election,” added Pandey.
Why Maoists oppose
According to Maoist leaders, if the provision is endorsed, cases will be brought to court and no leader will be safe. Earlier, cases concering only some top leaders were involved.
“There will be cases concerning then Maoist district committee members who are now top leaders. No one would be safe if the provision is endorsed as all manner of cases will be brought against them,” said a Maoist leader.
Maoist leaders also say that cases are being kept in reserve by the security forces. These cases will be brought out once the EC"s provision is endorsed.
They also claimed that all security officers are nominated from Nepali Congress backgrounds and they have kept such cases in reserve. They gave the example of the Dekendra Thapa murder case in Dailekh.
“No one candidate would be safe and our party"s candidates will be limited to Rekha Thapa and Narayan Kaji Shrestha,” said another Maoist leader.
However, Nepali Congress leader Ram Sharan Mahat said that the provision is very liberal.
“The Maoists are rejecting the provision without understand that it is aimed only at those already convicted by a court. It is very soft,” added Mahat.
According to him, it is only meant to stop the criminalization of politics. He also said that Nepali political parties should learn lessons from history. He said some Indian leaders had suggested that they are facing these very problems which they did not filter out in the past.
“We should learn from history. It is time to filter things out and save our political culture from criminalization,” added Mahat.
Only Bal Krishna Dhungel, a former lawmaker, has been convicted by a court so far. But the Maoist leaders are aware that if the new provision is endorsed, more cases will be registered and no one will be safe.
The leaders of the NC and UML are raising the issue strongly although the UCPN (Maoist) has accepted the parliamentary system which they rejected in the past and took up arms against.