Who would be prime minister if alliance wins polls?The CPN-UML central committee has picked KP Sharma Oli as the party’s prime minister candidate. But the four-party alliance has not figured out one.
The electoral alliance of the Nepali Congress, the CPN (Maoist Centre), the CPN (Unified Socialist) and the Rastriya Janamorcha hopes to win a majority of federal parliament seats in the November 20 polls. However, the alliance hasn’t made it clear which of the partners will lead the new government if it indeed emerges victorious.
The Congress, which leads the four-party alliance, says in its election manifesto released on Saturday that it would lead the next government. The partnering parties are silent on the matter.
Pramesh Hamal, a Unified Socialist leader, said that the ruling alliance has not reached a consensus yet on who would lead the coalition’s government in the event of its victory in the elections.
If the ruling alliance is undecided on the leadership of the future government, why did the Congress claim to lead one?
Congress General Secretary Bishwa Parkash Sharma, who headed the party’s manifesto drafting committee, claimed that the Congress needs no consent from the allies to say that it will lead the new government.
“We expect to become the largest party after the elections. In that case, we do not need other parties’ consent to say we will lead the government,” Sharma told the Post.
Meanwhile, if the ruling coalition wins the elections, it appears that choosing the next prime minister will become difficult for the Congress as the number of aspirants in the party for the top job is many.
If the alliance remains intact even after the elections, many believe that the incumbent Congress President and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba would be a natural contender for the post.
It seems unlikely that Deuba will be replaced as the party's parliamentary leader, unless he relinquishes the post. The party's parliamentary leader is eligible to run for prime minister.
However, Deuba is likely to be challenged this time.
Campaigners for another Congress General Secretary Gagan Thapa have projected him as the next prime minister. They have started a social media page named “Mission Prime Minister” to promote Thapa’s candidature. The party’s former general secretary, Shashank Koirala, and senior Congress leader, Ramchandra Poudel, also vie for the top job.
The second-largest coalition partner, Maoist Centre, has also staked its claim to run the administration, if the alliance wins in the vote.
Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been saying in public that the people want to see him as prime minister.
Senior Maoist Centre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha, however, said there was no agreement in the alliance on the government’s leadership after the elections. “We don't know why the Congress stated in its manifesto that it will form the next government. There has been no such agreement in the alliance,” Shrestha told the Post.
“If the election results come in the alliance’s favour, our party will definitely claim the government leadership and our party chair will be in charge.”
Baburam Bhattarai, chair of the Nepal Samajbadi Party, has claimed Dahal will be elected the new prime minister. While campaigning for his former party boss in Gorkha-2 on Sunday, Bhattarai said that Dahal would lead the new administration.
“Do not take it otherwise, Dahal will be the next prime minister after the elections,” Bhattarai said. Dahal is contesting the election from Gorkha-2, where Bhattarai previously ran for office and was elected.
Dispute over who will lead the government may get even more complicated if the ruling coalition wins a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, according to experts.
The four-party alliance is expected to win a majority of seats in the House, Krishna Khanal, a professor of political science, told the Post. “Since the coalition has yet to decide on who will lead the government, it may cause a schism within the alliance following the elections,” Khanal said.
With the electoral system that Nepal has adopted, the possibility of a single party getting a majority is low, observers say.
The CPN (UML) central committee has picked KP Sharma Oli as the party’s prime minister candidate.