KATHMANDU, Jan 28: With the left alliance working to finalize power-sharing in the provincial governments, aspirants for the posts of the chief minister have intensified their lobbying with the party top guns.
The left alliance of CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Center) is expected to form the government in six of the seven provinces within a month. The alliance swept Provinces 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the assembly elections and Maoist Center is now expected to lead the governments in Provinces 6 and 7, with UML heading governments in the other four.
Most aspirants for chief ministership from both parties have stationed themselves in the capital and are visiting the party chiefs repeatedly to line up support, said sources. Some aspirants have even changed factional allegiance within the party, said sources close to the UML leadership.
UML has elected Shankar Pokhrel as parliamentary party leader in Province 5, ensuring his choice as chief minister of the province. But both UML and the Maoists are undecided over PP leaders in the other provinces. According to the constitution, the PP leader of the political party securing a majority in that provincial assembly will be appointed chief minister within a month of the first meeting of the assembly.
Former ministers Sher Dhan Rai and Bhim Acharya are in the fray for chief minister of Province 1. Rai is said to have high chances of becoming a chief minister as he is from the party faction of UML Chairman K P Oli. Acharya is believed to be loyal to senior leader Jhala Nath Khanal. The left alliance does not expect to lead the government in Province-2.
While many UML leaders are presuming that former minister and UML vice-chairperson Asta Laxmi Shakya will become chief minister in Province-3, another influential UML leader, Rajendra Pandey, has recently switched from the Madhav Nepal faction of the party to the Oli faction, said party insiders. Pandey's move is seen as aimed at securing the chief ministership.
UML Secretary Prithvi Subba Gurung and influential leader Kiran Gurung are likewise in the fray for chief minister in Province 4. Both have stationed themselves in the capital and are lobbying top party leaders.
According to interlocutors working on power-sharing between UML and the Maoists, the Maoists are likely to lead Provinces 6 and 7. Maoist leader and former energy minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi and Naresh Bhandari have been lobbying to become chief minister of Province 6.
But CPN-UML is still staking its claim to lead the government in the province. The parliamentary party meeting of the UML in the province has decided to assume leadership of the provincial government stating that the party on its own won 20 out of the total 40 provincial assembly seats. UML leaders Prakash Jwala and Yamlal Kandel are in the race for chief minister.
Likewise, Maoist leaders Birman Chaudhary and Jhapat Bohara are in the fray to become chief minister of Province 7. UML has not staked any claim to this province.
Meanwhile, the Nepali Congress (NC) is not eying the leadership of any provincial government following its defeat in most of the provincial assembly elections. But the leaders of both Rastriya Janata Party Nepal and Federal Socialist Forum have been staking claims to lead the government in Province 2. Manish Kumar Suman and Jitendra Sonal from RJPN and Lal Babu Raut and Bijay Yadav from FSFN are in the fray for becoming chief minister of the province. But the two parties are undecided which of them should lead the province government.