KATHMANDU, March 19: The third week of March witnessed a sudden flurry of activities on the political fronts including the election of President Bidya Devi Bhandari. President Bhandari was re-elected with 39,275 votes on Tuesday (March 13) with the backing of the Left-Alliance while her one and only rival from the main opposition Kumari Laxmi Rai got 11,730 votes.
Bhandari garnered votes from 245 federal parliament members and 415 provincial assembly members. Bhandari’s rival Laxmi Rai obtained votes from 78 members of the Federal Parliament and 116 Provincial Assembly members. A vote of a member of central parliament (House of Representatives and National Assembly) is given a weightage of 79 while a vote of a provincial member is given a weightage of 48.
The vote of a member of Parliament was multiplied by its weightage of 79 and that of a provincial assembly member by its weightage number of 48 during the count. A candidate must secure 50 percent of votes from the 884 voters in the Electoral College to win the election. Bhandari won 74.4 percent of the total 862 votes cast on Tuesday.
Born in Bhojpur district, Bhandari studied her college-level education from Bhojpur and Morang district prior to joining active politics.
Stepping down by Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli is another significant event of this week. Parajuli was handed a retirement letter few minutes after he administered oath of office and secrecy to President Bhandari. The retirement letter triggered discourse for-and-against the issue across media and social networking sites.
Earlier, Justices at the Supreme Court were upping the ante against Parajuli charging that he had crossed the age limit of 65 on August 5, 2017. They were boycotting the benches as part of protest demanding resignation of the Chief Justice.
Stepping down by Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli is another significant event of this week. Parajuli was handed a retirement letter few minutes after he administered oath of office and secrecy to President Bhandari.
Following his resignation, senior-most Justice Deepak Raj Joshee assumed the post as Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on March 16.
Similarly, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Friday expanded his cabinet by inducting 15 new ministers, including four state ministers, taking the total number of ministers to 22.
The new ministers inducted into the cabinet from the UML include Pradeep Kumar Gyawali (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Raghubir Mahaseth (Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport), Gokarna Bista (Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security), Jagat Bahadur Sunar (Ministry of Youth and Sports), Rabindra Adhikari (Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation) and Sher Bahadur Tamang (Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs). Those appointed as state ministers include UML’s Padma Kumari Aryal (Ministry of Health and Population), Gokul Banskota (Ministry of Communications and Information Technology) and Dhan Bahadur Budha (Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation).
Similarly, the ministers inducted from the Maoist Center include Barsha Man Pun (Ministry of Energy), Giriraj Mani Pokharel (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology), Shakti Bahadur Basnet (Ministry of Forest and Environment) and Chakra Mani Khanal (Ministry of Agriculture, Land Management and Cooperates).
Earlier, Oli had appointed four ministers from the UML and two from the Moist Center. Those appointed ministers in the first phase included Ishwar Pokharel (Ministry of Defense), Ram Bahadur Thapa (Ministry of Home), Matrika Prasad Yadav (Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply), Lal Babu Pandit (Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration), Yubarj Khatiwada (Ministry of Finance), and Tham Maya Thapa (Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens).
Similarly, UML lawmaker Shivmaya Tumbahamphe was elected as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives on Friday.
Left-Alliance-backed Tumbahamphe defeated her one and only closest rival from main opposition Nepali Congress Pushpa Bhusal by 140 votes. Tumbahamphe secured 201 votes while Bhusal trailed behind with 61 Votes. As many as 261 lawmakers were present in the voting.
CPN (Maoist Center)’s Dev Gurung had proposed Tumbahamphe’s candidacy and UML’s Rabindra Adhikari seconded it.
Likewise, Bhusal’s candidacy had been proposed by Dila Sangroula and been seconded by Devendra Raj Kandel.
Shashi Kala Dahal of the CPN (Maoist Center) was elected the vice-chairperson of the National Assembly (NA), defeating Brinda Devi Ale of the Nepali Congress (NC) in an election held on Sunday.
The ruling left alliance candidate Dahal secured 45 votes while her rival Ale received only 11 votes. Of the total 59 members of the upper house, 56 had participated in the voting.
President Bhandari administered the oath of office to vice-chairperson-elect Dahal later on the same day at Sheetal Niwas. Dahal had been elected to the National Assembly unopposed from Mahottari of Province 2.
Incumbent Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun has been re-elected to the post for the next five years on Sunday.
As Pun was the only candidate for the post, the Election Commission, as per the election law, officially announced that he was elected unopposed saying that the election scheduled for March 23 was not necessary. Former Maoist leader Pun had filed his candidacy on Saturday with the backing of the ruling left alliance. Given its minority in the electoral college of the voters, the opposition Nepali Congress (NC) didn't field its candidate.
Pun was born in Rangsi of Rolpa and served as chief commander of the Maoist combatants prior to their adjustment in the Nepal Army.
The Vice President has a master's degree in political science. He started his career as teacher at a local school in Rolpa prior to joining Maoist politics. During the insurgency, the government had put a Rs 35 million bounty on his head.
His candidacy was proposed by Pampha Bhusal and Rekha Sharma of CPN (Maoist Center) and Subash Nembang, Parsuram Meghi Gurung and Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal of CPN-UML and it was seconded by Jayapuri Gharti and Rajendra Gautam of UML and Ram Narayan Bidari, Onsari Gharti and Dev Gurung of the Maoist Center.
Likewise, President Bhandari administered the oath of office and secrecy to newly-elected Chairman of the National Assembly, UML Ganesh Prasad Timilsina at a special ceremony held at the President Office, Shital Niwas on Thursday.