Nepali Congress preparing to contest President and Speaker electionsThe largest party has 89 seats in the House and it will require an additional 50 votes to win the Speaker race.
The largest party in the House of Representatives, Nepali Congress, which is facing criticism for giving its confidence vote to the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government, is eying the key positions of President and Speaker.
Normally in parliamentary democracy, the main opposition does not give the vote of confidence to the prime minister, but the Congress extended the trust vote to Dahal, which is now courting controversy.
Though Congress leaders say that the party will sit on the opposition bench, despite extending support to the Dahal government, it is also eyeing the plum posts of President and Speaker. On Thursday, a meeting of the party’s present and former office bearers decided to hold talks with other parties about the Speaker and deputy Speaker elections.
The meeting decided to hold consultations with other parties represented in the House regarding the elections, said the Congress spokesperson, Prakash Sharan Mahat.
At an all-party meeting on Sunday, the political parties represented in the House had agreed to elect the Speaker and deputy Speaker on January 19 and 21, respectively.
But the present ruling alliance, particularly the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre), has already reached an understanding that the UML will keep the posts of Speaker and deputy Speaker. But Congress leaders said they will definitely seek the post of President. There is no discussion on when the elections to the offices of President and Vice President would take place. The tenure of incumbent President Bidya Devi Bhandari ends in March. Since the post of President is important for her constitutional role, all major political parties have high stakes in it.
“We gave the vote of trust to Prachanda [Dahal] because we expect that the Maoist and other parties would support our candidates during the presidential elections,” senior Congress leader Shekhar Koirala said in Biratnagar on Thursday.
The reason why the Nepali Congress voted for Prime Minister Dahal is not known but some Congress leaders said it was a strategy to create a rift in the ruling alliance as well as to get some important posts such as the President and Speaker.
“Time will tell why we voted for Prachanda’s government. I am talking about the elections to the post of Speaker and deputy Speaker. Moreover, the presidential elections are fast approaching. We will contest the elections and expect cooperation from Prachanda and other parties,” said Koirala.
As per the constitution, the Speaker and the deputy Speaker represent different parties while the President and Vice President should be from different communities and gender.
Nepali Congress, as per its Thursday decision, decided to hold talks with the political parties to secure the posts of Speaker and deputy Speaker.
“We cannot win the elections alone, so we decided to seek the support of other political parties,” said Mahat.
The Congress has 89 seats in the House and it will require an additional 50 votes to win the Speaker and deputy Speaker posts. While the UML claims the post of Speaker within the ruling alliance, the Rastriya Swatantra Party is eyeing the post of deputy Speaker.
“We will claim the posts of President, Vice President, Speaker and deputy Speaker,” said Badri Pandey, joint general secretary of the party. “We will see who supports our bid and who opposes.”