Left bloc close to deal on sharing provincial postsA task force of the left alliance is close to finalising power-sharing between the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) in provincial governments and assemblies, with an announcement due on Sunday.
A task force of the left alliance is close to finalising power-sharing between the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) in provincial governments and assemblies, with an announcement due on Sunday.
As the governors have scheduled the first meetings of provincial assemblies between February 1 and 5, the two-party alliance has expedited preparations for forming the provincial governments. With the left alliance set to form governments in six of the seven provinces, the UML and the Maoist Centre have been working on dividing the major posts of chief minister, speaker and ministers between the two parties.
On Friday, two major leaders of the task force Subas Nembang and Ram Bahadur Thapa had consulted with their bosses—UML chief KP Sharma Oli and Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal—and briefed them on the agreements on power-sharing.
According to a task force member, the UML is likely to head the governments in provinces 1, 3, 4 and 5 while the Maoist Centre would have its candidates as the chief ministers in provinces 6 and 7.
The Maoist Centre has demanded the post of speaker in the four provincial assemblies where the UML leads the government. But the UML says it is ready to leave the post for the Maoists in two provinces. According to UML leaders, since the party has clear majority in provinces 1 and 3, they will claim both the chief minister and the speaker there.
“We can give deputy speaker in these two provinces with significant share in the provincial cabinet to the Maoist Centre for the sake of party unity,” said a UML leader.
The Maoists are likely to get the speaker in provinces 4 and 5, which will be governed by the UML. The Maoist party is mulling over fielding former minister Asha Khanal for the speaker’s post in Province 4. Multiple names are being considered in the Maoist Centre for the Province 5 speaker including Kul Prasad KC, Krishna Dhoj Khadka and Dama Sharma.
A task force member said that for provinces 1 and 4, the UML could allow the provincial parliamentary party to decide the chief minister candidate by electing the PP leader. “The parliamentary party in provinces 1 and 4 may be asked to choose the chief minister if the task force fails to pick the candidates unanimously,” said Surendra Pandey, a UML member of the task force.
In Province 1, UML leaders Sherdhan Rai and Bhim Acharya have emerged as the frontrunners for the chief minister race. Party insiders say Rai has an edge over Acharya as the former is known to be close to Oli. With party Secretary Prithvi Subba Gurung and Standing Committee member Kiran Gurung staking their claims to the post, picking the chief minister in Province 4 looks tough for the UML.
Shankar Pokharel has already been picked the UML parliamentary party leader in Province 5. This means there is no one in the party to challenge him for the chief minister’s post. UML Vice-chairperson Asta Laxmi Shakya is the most preferred candidate in Province 3. Shakya would be an easy pick for the party as her nomination will make the process inclusive in terms of gender and ethnicity.
Maoist sources said that the party is preparing to field former energy minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi as the chief minister of Province 6 and Birman Chaudhary for Province 7.