KATHMANDU, March 9: CPN (Maoist Center) is likely to select former deputy prime minister and multiple times minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara as its candidate for the new speaker of the House of Representatives.
Though the party is yet to take an official decision, many senior party leaders believe Mahara is on the priority list for the post.
The largest party CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) have agreed to share the two key posts of president and speaker between them. As UML has the post of head of state, the Maoists will get speaker. Given the alliance of the two major parties, their candidates are almost certain to be elected to the posts.
Maoist leaders said that the party will finalize the speaker candidate only on Friday morning, hours before the registration of candidacies begins. “Top party leaders have reached an understanding to field Mahara for the speaker and entrust another key leader, Barshaman Pun, with the party's organizational responsibilities,” said a senior Maoist leader.
Pun had been lobbying for his spouse Onsari Gharti as the candidate for speaker for a second term. Former speaker Gharti had been available for the post after the UML decided to repeat Bidya Bhandari in the post of president. But after most of the Maoist leaders stood against repeating anyone else in top state positions, Gharti's chances become slim.
“We have almost finalized the candidate for speaker. A party meeting on Friday will announce the name officially,” Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal's aide Jokh Bahadur Mahara told Republica.
Former ministers Giriraj Mani Pokhrel and Dev Gurung were also available for the post of speaker of the lower house. But Maoist chief Dahal came out in favor of Mahara at the eleventh hour, said party insiders. Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has been insisting on former law minister Gurung for speaker and party senior leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha on former minister Pokhrel for the post, claimed the sources.
Earlier, UML and the Maoist Center had agreed to support a Maoist candidate for speaker. The parliament secretariat has called for the nomination of candidates for speaker from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday. The 275 lower house members will vote the new speaker on March 10. The main opposition Nepali Congress is yet to decide whether or not to field a candidate for the post.