Parties seek ‘neutral candidate’ for President as HoR elects UML’s Ghimire as Speaker

Published On: January 20, 2023 08:05 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 20: A section of political parties including those in the ruling alliance have started looking for a ‘neutral candidate’ for the post of President.

Although the ruling CPN (Maoist Center) has reportedly reached an agreement with the CPN-UML to support the latter’s candidate for the post of President, there are concerns within the Maoist Center as well as other ruling parties that the candidate proposed by the UML could act like a ‘party cadre’ - something the current President Bidya Devi Bhandari is often accused of.   

Sources said that Nepali Congress (NC) — the largest political party in parliament — has proposed electing a ‘neutral candidate’. Multiple sources said that the leaders of the ruling Maoist Center have also taken the proposal positively.

“Discussions are underway to elect a politically ‘neutral’ candidate to the post of President. I can tell you that there will be consensus among all parties on neutral candidates,” said a political source. “Discussions on this issue will begin after the election of deputy spear of the HoR scheduled for Saturday.”

Talking to media persons after the election of the Speaker of House of Representatives (HoR), Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said efforts will be made to pick a consensus candidate for all parties. Stating that there is still time to elect a new President, Prime Minister Dahal said discussions were underway to forge a common understanding on the presidential candidate among all parties.

However, UML Chairman KP Oli has rejected the idea. He has insisted that his party should get the post of President as per the understanding reached with the Maoist Center during the formation of the new government.

As per the understanding reached between the two parties, UML’s Devraj Ghimire was elected as the Speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR). While Ghimire secured 167 votes, his rival candidate Ishwari Neupane of the NC secured only 100 votes in the 275-member HoR.

Out of the 275 members of the House of Representatives, 268 participated in the voting. One MP remained neutral.

CPN-UML, CPN (Maoist Center), Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Rastriya Swatantra Party, Janata Samajwadi Party, Janmat Party, Nagarik Unmukti Party and independent MPs Amresh Kumar Singh, Prabhu Shah and Yogendra Mandal voted in favor of Ghimire.

Speaker Ghimire was elected from Jhapa Constituency No. 2 through the parliamentary elections held on November 20 last year. He defeated independent candidate Bhadra Prasad Nepal by getting 28,716 votes.

Born on 26th May 1956 in Taplejung Sikaicha-3 in Taplejung, Ghimire now lives in Arjundhara Municipality-6, Jhapa. He started his political journey after the Jhapa rebellion in 1974 and is also the Chairman of the Sukhani Martyr Memorial Foundation. 

Ghimire was a member of the Standing Committee of the UML and became a member of the National Assembly in 1999. In 2018, he was elected as Chairman of Province 1 Committee of the CPN. He became a Standing Committee member of the party from the 10th National Convention held in 2021. 

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