Deuba defeats PoudelFormer prime minister and senior leader of Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba has been elected as the party president in a run-off, defeating Acting Party President Ram Chandra Poudel with a wide margin on Monday night.
Former prime minister and senior leader of Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba has been elected as the party president in a run-off, defeating Acting Party President Ram Chandra Poudel with a wide margin on Monday night.
Deuba, a three-time prime minister, secured 1,822 votes out of the 3,140 ballots cast in the second round polling on Monday. His rival Poudel secured 1296 votes. Twenty two votes were cancelled. A third candidate for the party presidency, General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula, who secured 324 votes in the first-round vote on Sunday, dropped out of the race. It seems that the votes secured by Sitaula were divided between Deuba and Poudel in the second phase.
Speaking to the Post briefly after his victory, Deuba said he would unite the party and focus on implementing the new constitution. “From today, there are no factions in the party. My sole purpose is to make the party united,” said Deuba. He added that as the party chief he will play his role for the implementation of the newly adopted constitution.
This was Deuba’s third attempt at the top party job. Earlier, he was defeated by the NC late presidents Girija Prasad Koirala and Sushil Koirala during the 10th and 12th conventions in 2000 and 2010 respectively.
With Deuba’s victory, the NC leadership has officially gone out of the Koirala family after two decades. Poudel, however, contested for top post for the first time. There was a leadership void after Sushil Koirala died ahead of the party convention.
A run-off was held after none of the three candidates managed to secure the required 50-plus percent votes in the first round. Deuba was 11 votes short of the magic figure 1,575. Run-off voting was held from 2pm to 7 pm on Monday. In the first round, 3,148 of the 3,161 convention representatives voted to elect a new central leadership.
In the first round of the poll on Sunday, none of the three candidates—Acting President Poudel, senior leader Deuba and General Secretary Sitaula—crossed the required vote threshold. Deuba got 1,564 votes, Poudel secured 1,160 and Sitaula received 324 votes.
Ahead of the second round of voting, Sitaula’s move was keenly watched by voters and observers for his potential to influence the final outcome.
Sitaula, who secured a distant third position in the first round, was seen changing his position before polling on Monday. First, he appealed for scrapping the next round of voting altogether and called for consensus. This, he argued, would help end factionalism in the party. This was interpreted by many as Sitaula supporting Deuba as the new party chief. It was not immediately clear if Sitaula’s supporters would all fall in line and vote as one bloc.
Later in the day, he made a U-turn, quickly appealing to his supporters to participate in the second round of voting. He, however, did not clearly support any of the candidates publicly. Poudel sought Sitaula’s support.
The counting of votes for office bearers and CWC begins on Tuesday. The 13th General Convention of the NC began on Thursday.
Deuba is the eighth president of the NC since its establishment in 1947. Tanka Prasad Acharya, BP Koirala, Subarna Shumsher, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Girija Prasad Koirala and Sushil Koirala are Deuba’s predecessors. BP and GP served as the party presidents for three terms each and Bhattarai for two terms.