Will the real VP candidate please stand up?One reason for multiple candidacies from 10-party bloc is the bid to stop Upendra Yadav from entering Parliament.
The fielding of multiple candidates for the post of Vice President has created confusion in the ruling coalition.
Of the four candidates who filed their nominations for the second highest state position, three are from the ruling alliance. Ram Sahay Yadav and Pramila Kumari Yadav of Janata Samajbadi Party and Mamata Jha of Janamat Party are in the fray from the 10-party alliance while Asta Laxmi Shakya is the CPN-UML candidate.
After the alliance failed to agree on a common candidate, three candidates filed their nominations, all proposed and seconded by other leaders in the alliance.
Multiple candidacies and formation of a sub-alliance have driven a wedge in the evolving coalition, according to leaders. Top leaders of the alliance are scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss the matter.
A Janata Samajbadi Party leader told the Post that after the Election Commission directed the election officer to register only women candidates for the Vice President race, they decided to field Pramila Yadav in the event of the commission rejecting their male candidate.
The commission is interpreting the relevant constitutional provision in its own way, the JSP leader said. “In case the nomination of Ram Sahay Prasad Yadav is scrapped, the candidacy of Pramila will remain intact.”
On Friday, the chief election commissioner said that since the President-elect is a male from the Khas/Arya cluster, the candidate for Vice President should be a female as per the letter and spirit of the constitution.
Article 70 of the constitution says: “Election to the President and the Vice President under this Constitution shall be so made as to have representation of different sex or community.”
“If the commission was right, why did they allow the nomination of Ram Sahay, who comes from a different community than President-elect Ram Chandra Paudel?” the JSP leader asked. “There is a grand design to corner the JSP and yank us out of the alliance.”
Nepali Congress Vice-president Purna Bahadur Khadka agreed that the 10 parties had failed to field a common candidate. “We will reach a conclusion by Sunday, the deadline for withdrawing candidacy,” said Khadka, adding that they were by no means cornering the Janata Samajbadi.
Meanwhile, three of the 10 parties—Janamat, Loktantrik Samajbadi and Nagarik Unmukti—have decided to vote for Jha.
Hours after nomination filing on Saturday, the three parties issued a joint statement saying that they had forged a working alliance, agreeing to work together in the future.
A leader told the Post that the sub-alliance was focussed on stopping Janata Samajbadi chief Upendra Yadav from going to Parliament by winning a byelection if his candidate, Ram Sahay, a Bara-2 representative, wins the vice-presidency. (The Vice President cannot hold a lawmaker post.)
“This is a message to Upendra that if he contests the by-election in case of Ram Sahay’s election as Vice President, the three parties will use their full strength to stop him,” the JSP leader said.
Janamat Chairman CK Raut told the Post that the sub-alliance was long in the making. “Finally, today [Saturday], we reached an understanding to cooperate on various issues of common interest like withdrawing court cases against our leaders and cadres, creating pressure for passing the citizenship bill, implementing the agreements signed in different times with different governments, and on the Vice President election.”
Raut, Mahantha Thakur of the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party and Ranjita Shrestha Chaudhary of Nagarik Unmukti Party have separate demands in power-sharing.
“The three parties support our candidate—Jha—in the Vice President election. By Sunday, we’ll try to make her the official candidate of the alliance,” said Raut. Notably, the Janamat Party nominee faced corruption charges and was suspended as general manager of Sajha Prakashan in 2014.
“I did not know much about her history or background,” said Raut, the Janamat chief. “I only came to know her last May.”
Jha also contested the post of mayor of Rajbiraj Municipality. In order to stop Ram Sahay, two complaints have been registered against him with the Election Commission. One is from the UML, which contends that his candidacy is against constitutional and legal provisions. The Janamat Party has filed a separate complaint against Ram Sahay.
“When a Khas-Arya male has been elected the President, only a woman other than a Khas-Arya can be a Vice President candidate,” said the UML in its complaint registered at the election office exclusively set up to conduct the presidential elections. Therefore, a male cannot stand for that position, the UML stated, adding that the constitution does not envisage a male to be elected to both top positions.
Election officer Mahesh Sharma Poudel, who is also a judge, will take a decision on the complaint filed by Mahesh Bartaula, a UML lawmaker, by Sunday noon.
“The Election Commission can assist the election officer, only if he needs support or else we will have no role in it,” said Ram Prasad Bhandari, an election commissioner. “If anyone is not satisfied with the decision of the election officer, they can seek justice from the Supreme Court.”
Once the ruling alliance picks its official candidate, either Ram Sahay or Pramila will withdraw, according to JSP leaders.
Pradip Yadav of the JSP said that it was already agreed within the alliance that JSP would get the post of Vice President. The Nepali Congress got to elect its candidate as President. “If the Janamat Party wanted to claim the post of Vice President, it should have done so at the meeting of the alliance that settled the common presidential candidate,” said Yadav.
“As per our earlier agreement, Ram Sahay will be the candidate from the alliance. The Janamat Party’s claim is invalid. Why create fuss now?” said Yadav.