Stage set for UML internal races for chief minister

February 9, 2018 07:00 AM Republica

UML has already announced it is to hold elections in Province 1 and 3 on Friday, while interlocutors are still striving for consensus in Province 4 

KATHMANDU, FEB 8: As intraparty dispute drags on even two months after the elections, the CPN-UML is gearing up to finalize its  chief ministerial nominees through elections. UML and the CPN (Maoist Center) have already agreed to form governments  in four and two provinces respectively. It is still unclear which party will form the government in Province 2, where coalition talks are underway. 

But the largest party in parliament has not been able to name its chief ministerial nominees, except in Province 5, owing to factional feuding. Two or more leaders are vying for chief minister in the disputed provinces.

Second rung leaders are showing huge interest in becoming chief ministers. That post is believed to be the most coveted  after the prime minister in view of the vast amount of power and resources at its disposal . The provincial governments are also expected to be more stable, allowing a chief minister the time to implement his or her  signature agenda. 

After rounds of unsuccessful efforts at consensus, UML looks set to nominate the chief ministerial candidates through internal races. UML is mulling to choose CM candidates for Provinces 1, 3 and 4 through internal races. 

The party has already announced it is to hold elections for Provinces 1 and 3 on Friday, while interlocutors are still striving  for consensus in Province 4. 

"If  consensus fails, there would be elections among the contenders as previously agreed by the party standing committee members," UML Secretary Krishna Gopal Shrestha said. 

UML insiders said a host of factors including factional disputes are hindering the consensus efforts. Three factions led respectively by UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli, senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal and Vice Chairman Bamdev Gautam are vying to secure the chief ministerships.  

Former ministers Sherdhan Rai and Bhim Acharya are two leaders eyeing the chief minister post in Province 1. Rai is close to Oli, while Acharya is close to UML senior leader and former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal. Likewise, Asta Laxmi Shakya and Rajendra Pandey are the two strongest contenders for Province 3. Both Shakya and Pandey have cordial relations with both the establishment and opposition camps in the party.

 UML Secretary Prithvi Subba Gurung, a leader close to UML Chairman Oli, and influential leader Kiran Gurung, a confidant of party Vice Chairman Bamdev Gautam, are in the race in Province 4.
The CPN (Maoist Center) has appointed its chief ministerial candidates for Provinces 6 and 7, two provinces where the party will  be leading the left government. Mahendra Bahadur Shahi and Trilochan Bhatta  respectively have been appointed as chief minister candidates for Province 6 and 7. Maoist Center spokesperson Pampha Bhusal said that the appointments were based on the recommendations of the lower committees as well as  criteria such as seniority, capability and contribution to the party.   

 The Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN), which is expected to form the government in Province 2, has appointed Muslim leader Mohammed Lalbabu Raut as its chief minister candidate. 

Similarly, all the parties with representation in the provincial assemblies have been electing their provincial assembly party leaders . 

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