KATHMANDU, March 14: The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) stood against the re-election of President Bhidhaya Devi Bhandari in a symbolic protest over various controversial decisions she took during her first term in office, NC leaders said on Tuesday.
Bhandari was re-elected for a five-year term Tuesday with the support of over two-thirds of the members of the bicameral parliament and the provincial assemblies.
Days after supporting the election of the House speaker and a day after abstaining from the race for National Assembly chair, the NC on Tuesday contested a presidential race it would lose.
Bhandari, who took office after the promulgation of the constitution in 2015, defeated her opponent Kumari Laxmi Rai of NC by 39, 275 votes to 11, 730 to retain the largely ceremonial office.
"NC didn't contest with any hope of winning. We did it to oppose what we believe was wrong. It was a calculated move which sheds light on the opposition's future strategy," said NC spokesperson Bishwo Prakash Sharma.
NC leaders said the party stood against the president because of several controversial steps that she took. The NC has long accused Bhandari of working against the spirit of the constitution for her alleged role in holding up the National Assembly Bill and sitting on the appointment of three members of the upper house who had been recommended by the outgoing government.
"It's NC policy to support right and oppose wrong. We expressed our reservations over her candidacy due to the controversial role she has played of late," said Sharma.
In supporting Mahara and Timilsina and opposing Bhandari, NC leaders said the opposition has made clear where its focus will be for the next five years. The party said it will use the House to come out strongly against the government and the president. The NC has already announced that it is to serve as a watchdog and scrutinize all work by the left government.
NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba said last week that the left government in general and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and President Bhandari, in particular, were threats to democracy.