KATHMANDU, Feb 9: With the leftist alliance finalizing its chief ministerial candidates in five provinces except for Province 4 on Friday, it now looks clear that the chief ministerial candidates in the federal Nepal this time won't be ethnically-balanced and gender inclusive.
While none of the seven provinces will be having a woman chief minister, the ethnic Tharu community living predominantly in Banke and Bardiya in Province 5 and Kailali and Kanchanpur in Province 6 have also been denied the opportunity to head provincial government, largely due to factional politics within the CPN-UML, and the power-sharing deal between the UML and CPN (Maoist Center).
While the two Madhes-centric parties -- Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) - have agreed to elect FSFN candidate Mohammad Lal Babu Raut-a FSFN leader belonging to Muslim minority in Nepal -- as chief minister of the Province 2, the leftist alliance comprising of UML and the Maoist Center are set to elect chief ministerial candidates in the remaining six provinces.
As per the power-sharing deal reached between the two parties, the UML will elect chief ministers in four provinces, while the Maoist Center would have its chief ministers in the remaining two provinces. The Maoist Center has picked Mahendra Bahadur Shahi and Trilochan Bhatta for chief ministers of Province 6 and 7, respectively.
Faced with deeply ingrained factional politics, the UML decided to pick its chief ministerial candidates in all four provinces except in Province 5 through voting. In Province 5, the party's secretary Shanker Pokharel has already been elected as the UML's parliamentary party leader, who automatically becomes chief ministerial candidate.
While the voting between Prithvi Subba Gurung (Chairman Oli faction) and Kiran Gurung (Madhav Nepal faction) to pick chief ministerial candidate of Province 4 is set to be held on Sunday, the party chose through voting Sher Dhan Rai and Dor Mani Paudel as chief ministerial candidates of Province 1 and Province 3, respectively on Friday. Both Rai and Paudel are considered close to Chairman Oli.
Although the election of Rai as chief ministerial candidate of Province 1 has ensured Rai community, which is one of the major ethnic groups living in Province 2, to head the provincial government, the election of Paudel in Province 3 has effectively thwarted the prospect of having a woman chief minister. Ashta Laxmi Shakya, who is considered close to Nepal faction in the UML, was the only woman candidate vying for chief ministerial post among all seven provinces.