Gagan Thapa bats for apolitical PresidentSays the Nepali Congress should not stake claim to both prime minister and President.
Nepali Congress General Secretary Gagan Thapa has said a non-political person would be an acceptable candidate for President for all sides.
In an interview with the Post on Thursday, General Secretary Thapa said that as major political parties in the ruling coalition are eying the post of President, a non-political person can be appointed as a compromise candidate.
“Our party should not demand both the presidency and premiership given the number of seats the party won in the November 20 elections,” Thapa said.
To keep the ruling coalition intact, the coalition partners must agree to a power-sharing deal as no single party commands a majority in parliament.
“During discussions with other alliance partners, the party may claim both the posts but, practically, it is not possible for the Congress to keep both the presidency and prime ministership,” Thapa added. “Most of the Congress lawmakers I've spoken to are of the view that the party should give priority to premiership.”
He said there are also concerns that the party could face problems if it elected a President whom it cannot trust.
Thapa says if the parties don’t accept a non-political personality as President, the Congress should prioritise the presidency and agree to lead the government in the second half of the five-year term. He said he was in favour of giving higher priority to the presidency as it may have a vital role in the condition of a hung parliament.
“The role our Presidents played in multiple instances has made many Congress leaders wonder if this institution is still purely ceremonial or constitutional,” Thapa told the Post. “Therefore there are also lawmakers in the party who believe that the President should be someone the party can fully trust.”
Given the chequered history of the two previous Presidents of federal Nepal, there is a lingering concern that a tussle between Sheetal Niwas (the President’s office) and Baluwatar (prime minister’s residence) may still ensue, Thapa added. “Due to this, it is preferable to create an atmosphere in which every party accepts a non-political figure as President.”
Congress General Secretary Thapa has floated the idea even as the leaders of other parties in the ruling coalition, especially the CPN (Maoist Centre) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and CPN (Unified Socialist) chairman Madhav Kumar Nepal, have opposed the idea of electing a non-political person as the head of the state.
Thapa was defeated by party chief Sher Bahadur Deuba in the election for parliamentary party leadership on Wednesday. He, however, has the backing of influential Congress leaders like Shekhar Koirala, another general secretary Bishwa Prakash Sharma, and vice-president Dhanraj Gurung.
The full interview with Thapa will be published in the Post on Monday.