Two former Speakers of federal parliament in fray for presidential election as ruling alliance begins to break apart

Published On: February 26, 2023 08:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Supported by seven other parties, NC fields candidacy of Ram Chandra Paudel, while UML fields candidacy of Subash Chandra Nembang

KATHMANDU, Feb 26: Two former Speakers of the House of Representatives (HoR) are set to contest for the presidential election scheduled for March 9 as the country’s national politics changes its course with CPN (Maoist Center) choosing to break the alliance with the CPN-UML barely in two months.

Senior leader of Nepali Congress (NC) Ram Chandra Poudel and CPN-UML Vice Chairman Subash Chandra Nembang filed their nomination at the Office of Election for President and Vice President at Federal Parliament Building in New Baneshwar on Saturday for the presidential election. While Paudel has received support of eight political parties in parliament, Nembang has the support of his party UML alone.

Poudel’s candidacy is proposed by NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba, CPN (Unified Socialist) Chairman Madhav Kumar Nepal, Senior Vice Chairman of CPN (Maoist Center) Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Janata Samajbadi Party leader Ashok Rai and Janamat Party’s leader Abdul Khan.

The proposal has been seconded by Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP) Chairman Mahantha Thakur, NC Vice President Purna Bahadur Khadka, Nagarik Unmukti Party Chairperson Ranjita Shrestha, People’s Front Nepal Chairman Chitra Bahadur KC and Chief Whip of Maoist Center Hitaraj Pandey.

Similarly, UML Chairman and Parliamentary Party (PP) leader K P Oli, Prithivi Subba Gurung, Gokarna Bista, Raghubir Mahaseth and Chhabi Lal Bishwakarma proposed Nembang’s candidacy. The proposal was seconded by the UML’s Yogesh Bhattarai, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Juli Kumari Mahato, Dil Kumari Thapa (Rawal) and Aman Kumar Maske.

It may be just a coincidence that both Poudel and Nembang served as Speaker of the lower house of the federal parliament. Poudel served as HoR Speaker from December 18, 1994 to March 23, 1999.

Similarly, Nembang served as HoR Speaker from July 27, 2008 to May 27, 2012. He also served as the HoR Speaker for the second time from February 18, 2014 to October 14, 2015. Nembang had played an instrumental role in his capacity as chairman of both the constituent assemblies.

Talking to media persons after filing nomination for the presidential election, NC leader Poudel expressed confidence that the UML will support him during the voting scheduled to be held on March 9. “The UML chairman stayed in jail with me. He is my old friend. I am hopeful that he too will contribute to make the post of president common for all parties,” he said.

In addition to NC, Paudel’s candidacy for the post of president is supported by Maoist Center, Unified Socialist, JSP, LSP, Janamat Party, Nagarik Unmukti Party and People’s Front Nepal.

UML candidate Nembang claimed that he is the only national consensus candidate for the new president given the fact that he had played a role of a consensus chairman of the Constituent Assembly that had 31 political parties. Stating that he would act as the custodian of the new constitution, Nembang said, “National consensus also applies to him.”

With the filing of nomination by NC for president with the support of the ruling Maoist Center, the current ruling alliance has started crumbling down.  While the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) has already recalled its ministers from the government, the ruling Janamat Party has already extended its support to the NC candidate instead of UML’s Nembang.

UML leaders have decided not to immediately pull out of the government even as the Maoist Center has decided to forge an alliance with the NC. Party insiders say the UML will try to break the alliance that Chairman Dahal has forged with the NC for the upcoming presidential election.

The RPP's decision to pull out of the government has, however, put the provincial government in Province 1 on the verge of collapse. The UML-led provincial government was formed with the support of RPP, JSP and the Maoist Center.  But with the RPP’s decision to quit the government, the government led by Hikmat Karki is already in trouble.

Party insiders say all the UML-led governments in the remaining provinces will be in trouble as these governments may not be able to secure a vote of confidence unless the current alliance is retained. But there are slim chances to retain the current alliance with Maoist Center Chairman Dahal publicly expressing his bitterness with UML Chairman Oli in the past two months. 


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