KATHMANDU: Former Nepal prime minister Baburam Bhattarai and several other leaders were today arrested during a protest outside the Election Commission office against a new provision that bars them from contesting the local level polls in May on their respective party symbols.
Bhattarai, 62, and the coordinator of the Naya Shakti Nepal (NSN), was leading the protest against the Local Level Election Act, 2017 that bars parties not having representation in the parliament from contesting on their election symbols.
NSN leaders Parshuram Tamang and Hisila Yami and the leader of the Revolutionary Maoist Party CP Gajurel were also arrested during the protest in Kathmandu. They were taken into custody at Nepal Police Club at Bhrikuti Mandap, police said.
The authorities had imposed restrictions in the area in view of the protest.
The leaders demanded that they be allowed to contest the May 14 polls on their party symbols. However, the EC has made a provision according to which only those political parties represented in the parliament can contest on their symbols.
After his detention, Bhattarai briefly spoke to media and vowed that the protests would continue until the provision was amended to allow the parties to use their party symbols.
He urged the EC to allow them contest on their party symbols, upholding the sentiments and values of a multi-party democratic system.
Local Level Election Act, 2017 requires that if political parties are to contest the local polls under their respective symbols, they must have representation in the parliament.
The political parties are registered with the EC but lack representation in the parliament.
Yesterday, the NSN had submitted a memorandum to Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda with a 48-hour ultimatum to amend the provision, following which they had threated to stage sit-ins.
Bhattarai, who was Nepal's prime minister between August 2011 and March 2013, formed the NSN in January last year after quitting the Prachanda-led UCPN-Maoist, claiming his party would become an alternative force in the country's politics. He has spent his student years at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University. PTI SBP