KATHMANDU, Jan 11: An effort made by Prime Minister KP Oli and Chairman of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal to pick a new House speaker candidate from within the NCP failed as Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe insisted that she would resign from the post only if she is offered the post of speaker.
The NCP leaders invited Tumbahangphe to the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Baluwatar on Friday to ask her to step down from the post to pave the way for initiating a fresh process to elect House Speaker. While turning down their request to step down from the post, Tumbahangphe instead threatened to resume the process to elect a new speaker if the party failed to make an official decision to elect her as speaker by Sunday.
The constitution has a provision to have the speaker and deputy speaker from different parties and gender. If Tumbahangphe chooses not to resign from the post, the NCP will have to give the post of speaker to a candidate belonging to any party other than the NCP.
And if the deputy speaker decides to resume the process to elect a new speaker, NCP candidates automatically become disqualified to field their candidacy for the post—something the ruling party does not want. The stance taken by Deputy Speaker Tumbahangphe has made the election of new House Speaker that has remained vacant after then Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara tendered his resignation in October after he was arrested by police on the charge of attempted rape.
Talking to media persons after her meeting with Oli and Dahal, Tumbahangphe said she held discussion to resume the House session from Sunday.
Prime Minister’s Press Advisor Surya Thapa said the two chairpersons held a discussion to decide the party’s candidate for the new speaker as soon as the deputy speaker left the prime minister’s official residence in Baluwatar. With just two days left for the next scheduled meeting of the lower house, the NCP has not yet held ‘serious’ discussions to decide its candidate for new speaker.
The infighting between the two factions of the party – the erstwhile CPN (Maoist Center) and the CPN-UML– within the NCP over the speaker candidate has made the top leaders to arrive at a consensus on the candidate of House speaker. While the former Maoist faction has insisted that the post of speaker should go to them, Prime Minister Oli is trying to secure the post of speaker to a leader belonging to the former UML.
NCP’s failure to select a speaker candidate is holding up some important business in parliament’s ongoing winter session. Some leaders said the next meeting of the lower house scheduled for Sunday is also likely to be postponed as the two party chairmen are yet to agree on the speaker candidate.
The lower house has failed to hold even a single meeting after the start of the winter session on December 20. After the formalities of the first meeting of the parliamentary session, the lower house scheduled its next meeting for December 27. But the meeting was deferred for January 1 through a notice.