House session delayed as NCP struggles to pick speaker

Published On: November 25, 2019 08:08 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 25: Although dozens of urgent bills are awaiting House endorsement, the government has been delaying the winter session of parliament just because the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has failed to pick a consensus candidate for the post of speaker.

Choosing a new speaker, after the unceremonious departure of the former speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara, is the first business of the next session of parliament. 

The post of speaker of the House of Representatives is lying vacant since October 1 following the resignation of Mahara after being accused of attempted rape by an employee at the parliament secretariat. 

The government had earlier planned to ask the president to summon the House session immediately after the by-polls scheduled for November 30.

However, sitting ministers told Republica that the House session could be delayed due to the ‘lack of preparations’ by the ruling party. 

According to the NCP leaders, the government is unlikely to summon the House session unless the ruling party finalizes the candidate for the post of speaker first. 

With nearly a dozen leaders from both former UML and former Maoist factions staking claim for the post of speaker, the NCP leadership is in a fix over how to select a candidate. Leaders have warned this would affect the unity of the party’s rank and file during the by-polls. 

The ruling party has decided to take up the issue after the by elections, said the party leaders. 

“Our party is yet to hold discussions on the candidate for the post of speaker. I hope party leaders will discuss the issue after the by-polls,” said NCP deputy parliamentary party leader Subas Nembang. 

Party chairpman and Prime Minister KP Oli, who represents the UML faction, and party executive chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal representing the former Maoist faction have been planning to pick leaders loyal to them for the speaker’s post. 

The Maoist faction has been mounting pressure on both Oli and Dahal to pick the candidate from former Maoist side stating that the position was allotted to the same faction during Mahara’s appointment in 2018. 

Agni Prasad Sapkota, Haribol Gajurel, Dev Gurung and Pampha Bhusal are in the fray from the Maoist side for the speaker’s position, according to the leaders privy to the matter. 

Similarly, Deputy Speaker Shivamaya Tumbahamphe has been claiming the position stating that she has to quit the position for the sake of the party. 

The NCP has asked her to resign from the position because the constitution bars the same political party to elect both speaker and deputy speaker.

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