KATHMANDU, Dec 27: Elections for the new speaker and deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament have become uncertain after the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) failed to settle an internal row over who to pick as candidate for speaker.
Although a meeting of the House of Representatives scheduled for Friday was expected to announce Monday as the election date for speaker and deputy speaker, the meeting is likely to be postponed through a notice upon a request from the ruling party, said a source at the parliament secretariat.
Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe has postponed her plans to resign from the post as her party has failed to take any decision about her, said the party source. Earlier, she had planned on tendering her resignation on Thursday, paving the way for parliament to announce the election date.
“The House cannot announce the election scheduled for speaker or deputy speaker without the resignation of the incumbent deputy speaker. As the party is yet to reach consensus over the speaker candidate she could have delayed her resignation,” said a senior NCP leader.
The ruling party is struggling over the pick for speaker as it tries to appease different factions and aspirants in the party. Tumbahangphe is also vying for the speaker position, along with other NCP leaders, but the party has not officially decided on a pick yet. According to sources, an understanding between Prime Minister and NCP Chairperson KP Oli and Executive Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal to pick Subas Nembang as speaker of the lower house has sparked controversy in the party after leaders from the former Maoist faction strongly opposed the choice. The faction has pushed former minister Agni Sapkota for the post, arguing that the position was allotted for someone from a Maoist background during the party unification deal last year.
The speakership has been lying vacant for the last three months after the resignation of former Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara from the post in early October following charges of attempted rape.
Along with the speaker candidate, the NCP has been consulting with the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal over the pick of a deputy speaker from that party. Due to a constitutional provision the NCP cannot hold both the speaker and deputy speaker positions. NCP leaders said that the party would support either an RJPN candidate or Durga Paudel of Rastriya Janamorcha Nepal for deputy speaker.
Main opposition party Nepali Congress (NC) has also been claiming the deputy speaker position but the party lacks the numerical strength to bag the post. NC leaders have also demanded that the deputy speaker should resign from the post before the announcement of an election date.
An official at the parliament secretariat said that they had planned the nominations for speaker and deputy speaker for Sunday and elections for Monday if the deputy speaker had resigned on Thursday. “It would be difficult for us to ready the seniormost lawmaker to chair the House within the day even if the deputy speaker resigned on Friday. We have also suggested deferring the House meeting for Monday through a notice,” said the official.