KATHMANDU, Dec 31 : Selecting a candidate for speaker of the lower house of parliament is becoming more and more difficult for the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), with its leaders divided into various camps pressing their own loyalists for the key parliamentary position.
With only two days left for the next meeting of the lower house, which is expected to announce an election date for speaker and deputy speaker, the NCP has failed to hold a single meeting on this agenda.
Election of various house leaders has already been delayed by the NCP’s indecision over a party candidate for speaker. The NCP alone can secure the post, given its strong majority in the lower house.
According to party sources, Prime Minister KP Oli has proposed multiple-time former speaker Subas Nembang. NCP Executive Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal also agreed on Nembang’s name in the past. But he has now sought further discussions following pressure from other leaders in his faction of the party. The former Maoist faction has insisted on nominating former minister Agni Sapkota to the position.
But party leaders say Oli has reservations over Sapkota as a court case is pending against him for abduction and murder.
Various women leaders in the party have, meanwhile, been pushing for Deputy Speaker Shivamaya Tumbahangphe to be picked for the position. Tumbahangphe herself has staked a claim and has declined to step down from her present position until there is a party decision concerning her. Sources said President Bidya Bhandari has also backed Tumbahangphe.
Although a meeting of the NCP secretariat was expected to discuss the speaker pick on Sunday, it ended up discussing the issue of a provincial capital instead, said party leaders.
Asked about the party’s position on new speaker, NCP Chief Whip Dev Gurung said it will hold a meeting on the issue only after the deputy speaker steps down.
“We have not held any meeting about any specific candidate because the constitutional path for the NCP to contest the speaker’s election is not yet open,” Gurung said. According to the constitution, one political party cannot hold both the speaker and deputy speaker positions.
Other NCP leaders said only Oli and Dahal may know who the speaker candidate from the party will be. But the prime minister’s press advisor, Surya Thapa, said that Oli and Dahal have not even held a meeting about this in recent days.
The meeting of the lower house was deferred on Friday following NCP indecision on the speaker pick. Sources said the next meeting of the lower house on Wednesday may also be deferred if the party fails to decide about a candidate by Tuesday.