December 10, 2019 07:00 AM NPT
By: Ashok Dahal
KATHMANDU, Dec 10: The main opposition, Nepali Congress (NC), which currently has 13 seats in the 59-member National Assembly, is most likely to lose seven seats in the election of the upper house next month. After the reduction in the party’s strength in the upper house, the NC may have only six members there, said leaders.
The Election Commission (EC) has been planning to hold a poll in the third week of January to pick 18 members of the upper house that will fall vacant after March 3. Of the positions of 19 members that are going to be vacant after March, one will be appointed by the president.
Earlier, 56 members were elected to the upper house from the seven provinces - eight from each province. The remaining three were nominated by the president on the recommendation of the government.
Of the total 59 National Assembly members, 19 have a tenure of two years each, 20 will have a tenure of four years each and the rest will have six years time, under the National Assembly members’ election law. As per the constitutional provision, the National Assembly will have the full term of six years and the vacant posts would be elected on a regular basis.
The term of seven upper house members of the NC is expiring in March 2020. Sarita Prasain (elected from Province 1), Mukta Kumari Yadav (from Province 2), Ghan Kumari Khatiwada (from Province 3), Brinda Ale and Surendra Raj Pandey from Gandaki Province, Durga Prasad Upadhyaya (from Province 5) and Badri Prasad Pandey (from Sudur Paschim Province) are leaving the upper house after completing their first two-year term.
According to Pandey, NC is unlikely to win a single seat in the National Assembly in the upcoming election because of the party’s weak position in the electoral college that elects the upper house members.
Members of the provincial assembly and chiefs and deputy chiefs of local units can cast their votes in the upper house elections with different voting weights.
“Our party is most likely to lose all seven seats that are falling vacant. We only have a chance to win a seat from Province 2 if an alliance is forged with the Madhes-based political parties,” said Pandey.
Given the majority at the provincial assemblies and having most of the chiefs and deputy chiefs of the local units, the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has a chance to further increase its members in the upper house after the upcoming election.
Election Commission Spokesperson Rajkumar Shrestha said that the commission has been planning the upper house election to pick 18 members in the third week of January next year. According to the upper house election law, the election to fill the vacant positions should be held at least 35 days before the expiry of the term of NA members.
“The election will be held on majority-basis this time. The candidates garnering majority votes from the electoral college will emerge victorious,” said Shrestha.
The EC held interaction with the leaders of political parties on Monday about the upcoming National Assembly election.