KATHMANDU, Feb 20: The election to pick a new deputy speaker for the House of Representatives has become uncertain after negotiations between the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and opposition Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) failed to reach an understanding on which party shall lead the government in Province 2.
Although the ruling NCP is willing to support the RJPN candidate for the post of deputy speaker, the latter is reluctant to accept the post without getting an assurance on leading the provincial government, sources said.
NCP deputy parliamentary party leader Subas Nembang has said that the election for deputy speaker is unlikely any time soon given the reluctance of the opposition parties to accept the position.
“I don’t see any possibility of election for deputy speaker at the earliest because none of the eligible political parties have expressed their interest in taking the position although the NCP is ready to support them,” said Nembang.
Given the constitutional provision of electing the speaker and deputy speaker representing different political parties and gender, the ruling party cannot take the post of deputy speaker despite its overwhelming majority in parliament.
After electing its leader Agni Prasad Sapkota as the speaker last month, the NCP has been mulling over supporting RJPN for deputy speaker.
But RJPN has sought package deal over coalition government in Province 2 and deputy speaker position.
Following the electoral alliance in the National Assembly election last month, the ruling NCP has been pressing the RJPN to change its coalition partner in the provincial government. But, according to RJPN sources, the ruling party has expressed its desire to lead the provincial government and this is not acceptable to RJPN leaders.
Samajbadi Party has been leading the coalition government in Province 2 with the support of RJPN for the last two years.
“We are ready to take the post of deputy speaker but we have not made any formal approach seeking the position so far,” said RJPN leader Laxman Lal Karna.
Even RJPN leaders are divided over the party’s candidate of deputy speaker, according to the party leaders. Majority of the party leaders including Mahantha Thakur have been projecting Chanda Chaudhary for the position while some senior party leaders including Rajendra Mahato have proposed Amrita Devi Agrahari for the post.
Although the Nepali Congress (NC) has also expressed its interest for the post of deputy speaker, the NCP is unlikely to support the main opposition party, according to a leader of the ruling party.
The ruling party leaders fear that the NC would claim its stake in appointments at various constitutional bodies if the deputy speakership is given to the party. According to the constitution, the deputy speaker will be a member of the Constitutional Council, which is responsible for recommending heads and members at various constitutional bodies.
The post of deputy speaker is lying vacant since January 20 following the resignation of Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe.