Contractors finding a way around electoral rules



Contractors finding a way around electoral rules

Many contractors are transferring ownership of their companies to their relatives to vie in the upcoming local elections

With the Election Commission barring contractors from filing candidacy in the upcoming local level elections, there have been several reports of construction company owners transferring their firms to their relatives’ names. 

Most of these reports have come from places like Bajura, Pyuthan, Jajarkot and Dhanusha. In Bajura alone, as many as 12 contractors have transferred ownership of their companies. With the May 13 polls approaching, the company registration office in the district is notably busy these days. 

Nriparaj Khatri, the incumbent ward chair of Budinanda Municipality-1, recently transferred ownership of his company, Lokmani Construction and Order Suppliers, in his daughter’s name. Earlier, he was operating a construction company while also holding the post of ward chairman. He wishes to contest in the upcoming local polls for a second term. 

A Congress member, Khatri recently registered his company in the name of his daughter Netru. 

Hari Bahadur Rokaya of Gaumul Rural Municipality, Kali Bahadur Shahi of Jagannath Rural Municipality and Krishnaraj Padhyay of Budinanda Municipality are other construction company owners who, like Khatri, were elected in the 2017 polls and are planning to get elected for a second term. They all have transferred ownership of their companies to the names of their close family members in the wake of the candidate criteria set by the Election Commission. 

Sundar Bista, who owns Dinesh Construction and Order Suppliers Construction, is planning to enter the race for the post of ward chairman from Budinanda-1. He had made an unsuccessful bid for the post five years ago. He too has transferred his company to his younger brother Uttam.

The number of contractors hoping to get election tickets from major political parties is also high in Pyuthan and Jajarkot districts. 

Sunil Shahi of Mallarani Rural Municipality, Pyuthan, has been involved in construction for over three decades now. He is also a CPN-UML member and the aspirant for the post of the rural municipality chair. 

Shovaram Neupane of Gaumukhi Rural Municipality, who owns Hariyali Construction Service, is another contractor who is planning to run for the post of rural municipality chair. He is also a former vice-president of the Pyuthan chapter of Contractors’ Association of Nepal and a Nepali Congress supporter. 

There are dozens of contractors in Pyuthan, eyeing for elected office in the upcoming elections. 

In Jajarkot district, Ratna Bahadur Khadka, who is the central vice-president of Federation of Contractors’ Association of Nepal, is contesting for the post of mayor from Chhedagad Municipality. 

Khadka is also the district chapter vice-president of Congress. A party meeting recently nominated his name for the mayoral candidate, sidelining eight other aspirants. 

In Janakpurdham Sub-metropolitan City of Dhanusha district, Balaram Mahato, contractor accused of financial crime, has announced to run for the post of mayor as an independent candidate. 

Mahato and his company Raman Construction are currently under investigation for VAT bill forgery and tax evasion.