KATHMANDU, Feb 25: The ruling party, CPN (Maoist Center), along with seven other political parties in parliament, have decided to endorse the Nepali Congress (NC) candidate for the presidential election scheduled for March 9.
A meeting of the top leaders of Maoist Center, NC, CPN (Unified Socialist), Janata Samajbadi Party, Janamat Party, People's Front Nepal, Loktantrik Samajbadi Party, and Nagarik Unmukti Party held at the prime minister's official residence in Baluwatar on Friday evening took a decision to this effect.
The decision of the eight parties including the ruling Maoist Center comes a day before the scheduled date for candidate nomination for the presidential election. NC Vice President Purna Bahadur Khadka said the decision to support the NC candidate was unanimously endorsed by the eight-party meeting. “Today’s eight-party meeting decided to unanimously endorse the NC candidate for the new president,” said Khadka.
Sources said Maoist Center Chairman and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had proposed to support the NC candidate for the new president during the meeting. He had argued that the election of a candidate of the NC, which is the largest party in parliament, is important to forge national consensus in the country. All parties participating in the meeting had seconded Dahal’s proposal.
The agreement to endorse the NC candidate for new head of the state was reached as a part of the power-sharing deal among major parties. While the NC will get the president, the Maoist Center will get to lead the government for four years.
Similarly, the CPN Unified Socialist will get to lead the government for the last one year of the current five-year term of parliament and the Janata Samajbadi Party will get the post of Vice President. Sources said there has been an informal understanding to give the Maoist Center the post of National Assembly Chairman after the post falls vacant.
The UML has taken strong exception to the new agreement reached among political parties against the commitment made earlier. UML Deputy General Secretary Pradip Gyawali has alleged that Dahal had started ‘a politics of betrayal’ and planted the seed of political instability in the country. The UML had been demanding that the party should get the president as agreed earlier, while Dahal was rooting for ‘national consensus’ for the new president in an apparent bid to solicit support of the NC.
Trouble has already started brewing in the ruling alliance after the agreement. UML leaders have alleged that Dahal had failed to honor the agreement reached with them earlier. Maoist Chairman Dahal, who became prime minister with the support of UML, had reportedly agreed earlier to endorse UML candidate as new president in exchange of the party’s support to him as the prime minister.
Although the Maoist Center supported the UML candidate as new Speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR), the UML leaders have accused Maoist Center of betraying them in the presidential election. “Our party will take an official decision later. But it is difficult to give continuity to the current alliance,” said a senior UML leader, asking not to be named.
As per the Constitution of Nepal, 2015, the president, who is the head of the state, is elected by an electoral college consisting of members of the Federal Parliament and the state assemblies. There are a total of 275 members in the House of Representatives and 59 members in the National Assembly under the federal parliament. Similarly, seven provincial assembly members have a total of 550 members.
The weight of each vote cast by provincial assembly members and federal parliament members will be different. While a vote cast by a member of the federal parliament will be considered to have a weight of 79 votes, the vote cast by a member of a provincial assembly will be considered to have a weight of 48 votes.
This means that there will be a total of 52,786 electoral votes in the electoral college that elects the new president. A candidate must secure more than 50 percent of the total votes to get elected as a new president.