Congress may appoint deputy Speaker, leaving state minister seat for Janata SamajbadiPushpa Bhusal has been touted as Congress nominee.
The ruling alliance is close to a deal on appointing a deputy Speaker.
Initially the five-party alliance had agreed to allocate the position to the Janata Samajbadi Party after it didn’t get a state minister’s position, which had earlier been promised to the party. After the October 8 Cabinet expansion, Nepali Congress has nine ministers and a minister of state, the CPN (Maoist Centre) five ministers and a minister of state, the CPN (Unified Socialist) got four ministers and a minister of state, and the Janata Samajbadi four ministers. The party could not be provided the promised minister of state position due to the constitutional provision that caps the Cabinet size to 25 members.
The alliance then offered the party the deputy Speaker’s post to which the party decided to nominate Amrita Agrahari. But now a minister’s post has become vacant following the resignation on October 10 by Minister for Industry Commerce and Supplies Gajendra Hamal after allegations that he was appointed on Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana’s recommendation.
A senior Janata Samajbadi Party leader, who is in the Deuba Cabinet, said the scenario has changed after Hamal’s resignation. “It is very likely that the Congress will keep for itself the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies and vacate the state minister’s position,” he told the Post. “And our party may get the state minister while Congress could appoint its nominee as deputy Speaker.”
Nepali Congress nominee Umesh Shrestha is a minister of state looking after the Prime Minister’s Office. Leaders from the ruling party say it is still unclear whether Shrestha will be promoted to full minister, but the party is ready to vacate the state minister’s position and keep the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies for itself.
If this happens, the Janata Samajbadi Party will appoint a minister of state in one of four ministries it is leading.
Meanwhile, Nepali Congress whip Pushpa Bhusal has been touted as the party’s nominee for deputy Speaker.
“Deputy Speaker’s position is a part of power sharing in the ruling alliance,” Krishna Bahadur Mahara, spokesperson at CPN (Maoist Centre), told the Post. “The parties will finalise it together with the vacant ministerial position in the Cabinet.”
Despite being a crucial position of one of three state organs, the deputy Speaker’s position is vacant since Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe resigned the post on January 20, 2020. She had to resign after then Nepal Communist Party (NCP) decided to field Agni Sapkota for Speaker after Krishna Bahadur Mahara resigned following a charge of attempted rape. Tumbahangphe’s resignation was a must for Sapkota to become Speaker as the Constitution of Nepal doesn’t allow Speaker and deputy Speaker from the same party.
Article 91 of the constitution makes it mandatory to elect Speaker and deputy Speaker within 15 days of the first meeting of the House of Representatives. The constitution, however, doesn’t set any deadline for their elections if the positions fall vacant partway through the parliament’s term.
Rajendra Shrestha, the minister for Federal Affairs and General Administration and a Janata Samajbadi Party leader said the ruling alliance is for appointing deputy Speaker from the ongoing session of parliament. “Attempts are being made to appoint a deputy Speaker from the ongoing session,” he told the Post. “The current session, however, will be prorogued by October 31. So the appointment needs to be made within a week or else it will be delayed further.”