June 7, 2017 07:54 AM NPT
By: Ashok Dahal
KATHMANDU, June 6: Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur was elected prime minister of the country on Tuesday. As Deuba becomes prime minister for the fourth time, he is also the country"s 40th head of government.
Deuba has become prime minister the second-most often after Girija Prasad Koirala in Nepal"s parliamentary history after democracy was reinstated by the 1990 popular movement. Deuba is 10th prime minister since the abolition of monarchy and the third after the promulgation of the new constitution in September 2015.
Sole candidate in the prime ministerial race, Deuba secured 388 votes from the total of 593 members of parliament. Of the 558 votes cast, 170 were against his candidacy. Altogether 35 lawmakers from various political parties did not vote.
Deuba, the president of the largest political party in parliament, was backed by third-largest party CPN (Maoist Center) and the agitating Madhes-based parties. Three political parties in the UML-led opposition camp-- CPN (Marxist Leninist), Nepal Workers Peasants Party and Nepal Family Party-- didn"t vote. Four other parties voted against Deuba"a candidacy.
Deuba, who was removed by the king in humiliating fashion during the Maoist insurgency in 2005, now returns as head of the government after 12 years.
With his election to the post, Deuba faces the major task of holding the second phase local polls in the remaining four provinces and then conducting elections for provincial assemblies and the central parliament, all within the constitutional deadline of January 2018.
“Holding three sets of elections, endorsing the constitution amendment bill, maintaining balanced relations with neighboring India and China and economic prosperity through development by inviting foreign investment will be my top priorities,” said Deuba while offering his candidacy in parliament.
Deuba committed himself to amending the constitution during his tenure to address the demands of agitating Madhes-based political parties. “I express my sincere commitment to endorsing the constitution amendment bill, which is under discussion in this House, so as to garner broader acceptance of the constitution,” said Deuba.
Praising outgoing Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal for handing over the government leadership as per the understanding reached between the two sides last year, Deuba lauded Dahal as a statesman.
Proposing Deuba as new prime minister, Dahal also said that he himself has set a new precedent in the country"s politics by becoming the proposer of his own successor.
“A sitting prime minister stepping down from power and proposing his successor is something that has never happened in Nepal before. And it is a rare practice in world politics as well,” Dahal claimed. Highlighting that Deuba has become prime minister at the crucial time of implementing the new constitution, Dahal said he has an opportunity to prove himself.
“He was removed by the king during his previous tenure as prime minister, but history has given him yet another opportunity to institutionalize the changes in the country and prove himself,” said Dahal.
NC senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel, Nepal Loktantrik Forum Chairman Bijay Gachchhadar, Jaya Dev Joshi of CPN (Samyukta), Prem Bahadur Singh of Samajbadi Janata Party and Kumar Khadka of Akhanda Party seconded Deuba"s candidacy.
NC leader Paudel said that Deuba should focus during his tenure on institutionalizing the system in the country and accelerating economic prosperity and development activities .