KATHMANDU, Jan 20: The election process for the new speaker and deputy speaker of the lower house is starting from Monday. After the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) finalized its candidate for the post of speaker, the Parliament Secretariat is planning to initiate the election process for parliament’s chief and deputy.
A meeting of the House of Representatives (HoR) is scheduled for Monday afternoon. Secretary of the HoR, Gopal Nath Yogi informed Republica that Monday’s House meeting is likely to fix the election date and ask the general secretary of the Parliament Secretariat to unveil the election calendar.
The election for the chief and deputy chief of the HoR is likely to take place only after upper house elections, it is learnt.
Parliament remains without speaker since early October 2019, when the then speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara resigned from his position after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female staffer.
Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe, who was also seen as one of the contenders for the post of speaker, has now made up her mind to quit the position after not getting support from the party. The deputy speaker’s resignation is mandatory for the NCP to field a candidate for speaker as the constitution does not allow a single party to hold both speaker and deputy speaker’s positions.
Article 91 (2) of the constitution has mandatory provision of electing the speaker and deputy speaker from different political parties and gender.
The speaker’s election was prolonged for weeks after Tumbahangphe refused to tender her resignation from the position despite request from the party. But she is now compelled to quit the position after the party decided to field Agni Prasad Sapkota for the post of speaker dampening her hope of getting the powerful position.
NCP leaders believe Tumbahangphe will resign before Monday’s House meeting starts. An aide to Deputy Speaker Tumbahangphe informed Republica that she is planning to resign Monday itself.
The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has demanded that the position of deputy speaker be vacated before the announcement of election date for the post of speaker if NCP wants to field its candidate for the speaker’s position.
Tumbahangphe was elected deputy speaker from the then CPN-UML in March 2018. But she has been compelled to quit before completing her five-year full term after Speaker Mahara resigned and her party NCP wanted to retain the speaker’s position at any cost. To get the speaker’s position, the NCP is ready to offer the deputy speaker position to any other party.
Since NCP commands a majority in parliament, any party which enjoys the support of NCP can bag the deputy speaker’s position. Of late, it’s not clear which party will get NCP’s support though Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) and main opposition NC are eyeing the position.
NCP is least interested in leaving the position for NC, say the party leaders. NCP and RJPN are now coming closer. Both the parties have forged an electoral alliance for upper House election to counter the NC.