POKHARA, June 12: Parliamentary party leader of the Nepali Congress (NC) in Gandaki Province, Krishna Chandra Pokharel ‘Nepali’ has been appointed as the new chief minister of the province.
Province Chief Sita Kumari Poudel, on Saturday, appointed Pokharel as the chief minister as per Article 168 (5) of the Constitution of Nepal.
Pokharel, on Friday, staked his claim to the post of executive head of the province with the support of 31 members of the provincial assembly. All 15 members of the NC, 11 of the CPN (Maoist Center), two each of Rastriya Janamorcha (RJM) and Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) and an independent lawmaker extended their support to Pokharel.
After Chief Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung lost a confidence motion on Thursday, Governor Poudel called upon the members of the provincial assembly to stake their claim to the formation of a new government.
According to high-level political sources in the province, Pokharel will be administered the oath of office and secrecy on Saturday evening itself.
As per Article 168 (6) of the constitution, CM Pokharel is required to obtain a vote of confidence from the provincial assembly no later than thirty days after the date of his appointment.
Outgoing CM Gurung also lodged his claim for the position. He said he had the support of RJM and JSP lawmakers. However, his claim was dismissed.
Outgoing Chief Minister Gurung is considered a close confidante of Prime Minister K P Oli. With Gurung losing the post of Chief Minister, UML now has three chief ministers, namely in Province 1, Bagmati Province and Province 5. Opposition alliance is mounting its strength to oust all chief ministers close to Oli with the support of the Madhav Kumar Nepal-led faction of the UML.
Earlier, the opposition alliance in Gandaki Province had started a sit-in protest in front of the office of Province Chief Paudel.
Provincial Assembly members of the opposition alliance started the sit-in after Province Chief Paudel dilly-dallied appointing Krishna Chandra Nepali Pokharel as the Chief Minister even as he garnered the support of a majority of provincial assembly members. A total of 31 Provincial Assembly members had submitted their signatures on Friday proposing Nepali as the chief minister of Gandaki Province.
The opposition alliance grew concerned after the outgoing Chief Minister Gurung, who lost a crucial vote of confidence in the provincial assembly on Friday, also staked his claim to the post of chief minister, claiming that he had the support of Rastriya Janamorcha and Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP).
Interestingly, all 31 provincial assembly members --- the number sufficient to form a majority government --- supporting the opposition alliance leader Pokharel had reached the office of Province Chief Paudel in person earlier on Friday.
The opposition alliance leaders had expressed suspicion that Chief Minister Gurung could be following the path taken by Prime Minister KP Oli at the center. Although Oli had lost majority in the federal parliament, he had staked his claim to the post of Prime Minister before President Bidya Devi Bhandari. President Bhandari had taken this as an excuse not to appoint Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime Minister despite the fact that he commanded the support of 149 lawmakers in parliament. Prime Minister Oli had subsequently decided to dissolve parliament once again.