Dispute within NCP over Speaker leaves Deputy Speaker’s poll homework in backburner

Published On: January 19, 2020 07:33 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Despite posturing, Tumbahangphe is sure to step down once Speaker candidate is finalized

KATHMANDU, Jan 19: With the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) failing to finalize a candidate for the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives due to internal disputes, a homework to pick the Deputy Speaker candidate has fallen in the backburner, said leaders of the ruling party. 

No other political party in the House of Representatives (HoR) has made a plan to field their candidates for the post of Speaker as the NCP alone has a clear majority in the lower house. But due to a constitutional provision, the NCP has to give up the post of Deputy Speaker to other political parties after taking the post of House Speaker. 

Article 91 (2) of the constitution has mandatory provision for electing speaker and deputy speaker representing different political parties and gender. 

Although no other political party can elect Deputy Speaker without the support of the NCP, none of the coalition partners or the opposition parties have started internal homework to solicit support of other parties for the post. 

“Nothing has been done so far about the deputy speaker’s issue because we are still discussing over the candidate of speaker from the party,” said NCP Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha. 

But the position of Deputy Speaker has not fallen vacant after incumbent deputy speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe declining to resign from the post. She has demanded an assurance from party leadership for electing her to the post of House Speaker. 

However, NCP spokesperson Shrestha claimed that she will resign very soon despite her public posturing not to do so. 

“NCP has already asked Deputy Speaker Tumbahangphe to resign. She has no options but to abide by the party decision. We hope the House meeting will not be postponed this time through a notice as in the recent past,” he added. 

The next meeting of the House of Representatives is scheduled for Monday. The meeting has already been postponed thrice by pasting notices. 

Some NCP leaders claim that Tumbahangphe has declined to step down as she is backed by Prime Minister K P Oli in a bid to pressure the erstwhile CPN(Maoist Center) to give up the post. 

Some leaders from the erstwhile Maoist faction said that Tumbahangphe’s decision came after the Maoist faction insisted that they won’t give up the post of Speaker, which belonged to them before the resignation of Krishna Bahadur Mahara in early October after facing rape attempt allegation. 

Amid this internal squabbling within the party over the post of speaker, the NCP has not initiated any homework about supporting a candidate for deputy speaker even as the election for both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker is likely to be held together. 

NCP sources said the party is likely to second Rastriya Janata Party Nepal’s candidate for the post of deputy speaker, although no decision has been made to this effect yet. 

The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has also staked its claim for the post of Deputy Speaker, which is expected to fall vacant well before the scheduled date of speaker’s election. 

“We have held no discussion on this topic so far. Let the election schedule come first from the House. We will then come up with our official position,” said NC Chief Whip Pushpa Bhusal.

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