The Election Commission last month ordered annulment of parliamentarians’ development projects worth Rs 10 billion but the government is yet to furnish the compliance report.
The EC’s decision was meant to create a level playing field for all contestants during the federal and provincial polls scheduled for Nov 26 and December 7 but the decision seems confined to paper with the government handing out favors where it pleases.
The Home Ministry, run by the Nepali Congress Party, has been generously releasing ‘discretionary funds’ for individuals with political access, ostensibly for medical treatment. The cumulative figure released has crossed Over Rs 500 million.
On Monday, the Cabinet scrapped a 1200 MW hydro project contract that was awarded to Chinese company Gejuwa six months ago by then Energy Minister and Maoist leader Janardan Sharma, hours after he had been given a farewell by the Ministry. ‘We do not expect the government to take major decisions as, in effect, it is a care taker government’ said an E C official. How the Chinese authorities would respond to this humiliation over the loss of over a billion dollar contract is yet to be seen.
Together with this, the government has given India, a major reason to cheer: the Investment Board extended by three years the ‘ Financial closure ‘ period for two Indian companies–GMR and SJVN–to build the Upper Karnali and Arun Three major hydro projects.
In Nepal’s sharply polarized politics, the ruling Nepali Congress is seen to be pro-India and the Left Alliance pro-Chinese. However, neither the Left nor the Nepali Congress have been transparent and accountable in financial dealings and decision making.
The arbitrary decisions of the government have visibly had an impact in adherence to the code of conduct by the politcal parties. Also, the EC appears to have double standards when it comes to the eligibility of candidates.
A prominent Nepali Congress leader , Govinda Raj Joshi ,was declared ‘disqualified’ from contesting a parliamentary seat by the returning officer apparently on an order from the EC on the grounds that he was indicted by a lower court in a corruption case although his appeal has been accepted by the Supreme Court.However , couple of other candidates in a similar situation as Joshi were allowed to contest.
The EC, which headed by a nominee of the Maoist Party, faces accusations of harbouring a pro-Left bias and these contradictory decisions appear to reinforce such fears.
Meanwhile, the EC is believed to have asked various agencies of the state to investigate extravagant or expenses that have gone beyond the ceiling for the campaign by some contestants.