Ghimire and Neupane in the House Speaker raceUML candidate Dev Raj Ghimire looks almost certain to win.
Dev Raj Ghimire of the CPN-UML and Ishwari Neupane of the Nepali Congress have on Wednesday filed nominations for the election of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The election is scheduled for Thursday morning. Neupane’s candidacy was proposed by Congress lawmaker Bishwa Prakash Sharma and was seconded by Prakash Jwala of the CPN (Unified Socialist).
The Congress and the Unified Socialist, both of which had voted for Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal during a floor test in Parliament on January 10, had earlier decided to field their own candidate against the ruling alliance’s candidate for Speaker.
Ghimire’s candidacy, on the other hand, was proposed by UML lawmaker Subas Nembang and seconded by CPN (Maoist Centre) lawmaker Hitraj Pandey, Rastriya Swantantra Party President Rabi Lamichhane and Rastriya Prajatantra Party Chairman Rajendra Lingden.
Ghimire, who won from Jhapa-2, is a UML standing committee member and party in-charge of Province 1. He was elected to the National Assembly in 1999.
Ghimire’s election looks almost certain if the lawmakers of the parties that have proposed and seconded his candidacy vote for him. The four parties combined have 145 lawmakers—the UML, the second largest party in the House, has 79 lawmakers, the Maoist Centre 32, the RSP 20 and the RPP has 14 lawmakers. Just 138 votes is enough for a win in the 275-strong lower house.
The other candidate, Neupane, so far is sure to receive the support of 105 lawmakers of the Congress, the Unified Socialist and the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party. Congress leaders have, meanwhile, claimed that the Janata Samajbadi Party will also vote for its candidate. “She [Neupane] is a common candidate of all the parties that are not in the government,” said Congress leader and lawmaker Sharma. On Wednesday, Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba held meetings with Unified Socialist chief Madhav Nepal and JSP chair Upendra Yadav seeking their backing for Neupane.
A member of the House under proportional representation category from Kailali, Neupane is a Congress central working committee member. She had long been in the leadership of the party’s women’s wing.
“The Congress approached us for support. However, we have yet to decide whom to vote for,” Ram Sahay Prasad Yadav, the JSP’s parliamentary party leader, told the Post. “We will settle it on Thursday morning.”
President Bidya Devi Bhandari on December 25 appointed Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal as prime minister after he showed he has the support of 169 lawmakers including those from the JSP.
The constitution makes it mandatory to elect the Speaker and the deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives within 15 days of the House’s first meeting. The first meeting of the lower house, elected through November 20 elections, was held on January 9.
As per Article 91 (2) of the Constitution either the Speaker or the deputy Speaker must be a woman and the occupants of the two posts should be from different parties. “The process for the Speaker’s election will begin at 11 am on Thursday,” Dashrath Dhamala, assistant spokesperson at Parliament Secretariat, told the Post. The secretariat on Thursday will publish the schedule for the election of deputy Speaker which is likely on Saturday.
Talking to the media after filing his nomination, Ghimire said he is certain to win. “I am sure that I will get elected. I am also well aware of the impartial role the Speaker needs to play,” he said.
UML Deputy General Secretary Prithvi Subba Gurung and Secretary Chhabi Lal Bishwakarma too were aspirants for the Speaker’s post. However, Ghimire beat them in the intra-party race. A UML politburo member said Gurung is not too close to party chair KP Sharma Oli while Bishwakarma, despite getting elected as lawmaker multiple times, has failed to work effectively, according to party insiders. “A Speaker must be dynamic and have skills to handle the House properly. Ghimire has those qualities,” said the leader on the condition of anonymity.
In the power-sharing deal, the UML and the Maoist Centre have agreed to share the Speaker’s position by turns for two and a half years each.
Also talking to journalists after filing her candidacy, Neupane said nobody contests the elections to lose. “The House will elect me as the Speaker,” she said.