KATHMANDU, Mar 7: Reelection of President Bidya Devi Bhanadri for a second term has become certain after the ruling left alliance filed her candidacy Wednesday, under the new federal setup.
Given their clear majority in the electoral college for president, which includes members of parliament and the seven provincial assemblies, Bhandari, the nominee of the left alliance for head of state is now poised to remain president for the next five years.
Bhandari will face Kumari Laxmi Rai of the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) as her contender in the presidential election scheduled for March 13 in the capital. But Rai's chances of getting elected to the post are very slim as the NC and other parties have less than a majority of voters in the electoral college.
UML senior leader Madhav Nepal, party Vice President Bhim Rawal, Ishwar Pokhrel, Subas Nembang and Maoist Center leader Onsari Gharti proposed Bhandari as candidate for president while Ram Bahadur Thapa of the Maoists and Bishnu Paudel, Gokarna Bista, Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal and Rabindra Adhikari of UML seconded the proposal, at the presidential election office set up at the parliament building, New Baneshwor.
A candidate must secure 50 percent of the vote weightage (26,250) out of the total weightage of 52,501 from the 880 voters in the electoral college, to be elected head of state. The left alliance has a total vote weightage of 33,675 with its 564 members of parliament and provincial assemblies. UML and Maoist Center have 213 members of parliament and 351 provincial assembly members.
NC has a vote weightage of 11, 428 with its 76 members of parliament and 113 provincial assembly members. The various other parties are undecided how they will vote for the presidential candidates.
The 331 members of the bicameral parliament [three others have yet to take the oath] and 549 members [one is yet to take oath] of the unicameral provincial assemblies of all seven provinces are eligible to vote for the presidential candidates. The votes of the members of parliament (House of Representatives and National Assembly) will have a weightage of 79 each while that of the 549 members of the seven provincial assemblies will have a weightage of 48 each. The vote of a member of parliament will be multiplied by its weightage number of 79, and that of a provincial assembly member by its weightage number of 48.
The election regulations allow aspirants to file candidacy through their representatives, but Bhandari herself reached the election office, along with Prime Minister K P Oli and other senior leaders of the UML and the Maoists. Talking to journalists after filing her nominations, Bhandari claimed that the discharge of her duties and responsibilities as head of state have been transparent. "Reality is something that needs to be evaluated by a third eye, not through external judgment,” she said.
Claiming to have worked in the spirit of the constitution, keeping the interests of the nation foremost, she also expressed hope that citizens would properly evaluate her first term .
On Tuesday night, the UML picked Bhandari as the party's candidate for president, following their agreement with the Maoists last month on support for the UML candidate. Earlier, former prime minister and senior UML leader Jhala Nath Khanal was also seen as a likely candidate for president.
Bhanadri became the second president of the country and the first female in the post in October 2015, defeating Kul Bahadur Gurung of NC. Though the term of the president is five years, Bhandari was about to step down after two years and five months in the post as she was a transitional president following the promulgation of the new constitution.
Meanwhile, Rai had arrived from Bhojpur on Wednesday after the NC central working committee picked him as its presidential candidate. The candidacy of former lawmaker Rai was proposed by Chitra Lekha Yadav, Man Bahadur Bishwokarma, Parvati DC Chaudhary, Devendra Raj Kandel and Surendra Raj Pandey and seconded by Sujata Pariyar, Shiva Chandra Chaudhary, Sarita Prasai, Radha Ghale, Mekhlal Shrestha.