KATHMANDU, Nov 8: The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has been mulling over asking Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe of the lower house of parliament to step down to ensure that the party secures the post of speaker. The post fell vacant after the ouster of Krishna Bahadur Mahara last month in the wake of allegations of attempted rape.
As the constitution makes it mandatory to elect speakers and deputy speakers in parliament from different political parties, the NCP is planning to open the post of deputy speaker to other parties and keep the speakership for itself. The ruling party ploy comes at a time when the opposition Nepali Congress (NC) is arguing that the deputy speaker cannot initiate a meeting of the House of Representatives. A provision in the parliamentary regulations states that the speaker should begin and close each House meeting.
NCP deputy parliamentary party leader Subas Nembang said on Thursday that the deputy speaker will resign prior to the commencement of the lower house session which will elect a new leader. “The deputy speaker should resign before the commencement of the House session to ensure the representation of different political parties and different genders in the posts of speaker and deputy speaker,” Nembang told journalists at his office.
With the merger of the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) prior to the last parliamentary elections, both speaker and deputy speaker have ended up in the same political party. But the NCP declined to vacate one of the posts despite constitutional challenges. A case in this connection is still pending at the Supreme Court.
According to Nembang, the winter session of parliament will be summoned only after the by-polls for vacant posts in parliament and the provincial assemblies.
He, however, claimed that the resignation of the deputy speaker is not necessary just because the existing parliamentary regulations bar her from beginning and closing House meetings. “As the constitution allows the deputy speaker to chair House meetings the regulations cannot bar her from beginning and closing such meetings,” Nembang argued.
According to party leaders, the top brass is yet to discuss the party’s candidate for speaker. But names including Agni Sapkota, Dev Gurung and Lekharaj Bhatta are already said to be in the fray. Deputy Speaker Tumbahamphe has also staked a claim for the post of speaker.