KATHMANDU: Past presidents of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) — the largest private sector umbrella body — have laid emphasis on unanimous president to strengthen the institution that has been weakened due to division and groupism among the members. Organising a press meet today, its seven past presidents collectively urged the aspirants to come to consensus to show unity in this critical juncture facing the country in the aftermath of devastating earthquake. Altogether nine past presidents have signed an agreement paper vowing to do their best to elect the new president through consensus. “This is our request to the aspirants to go through consensus rather than election, because this election is happening due to unusual situation — and first of its kind in the history of FNCCI,” said Mahesh Lal Pradhan, former president of the FNCCI. He further cited an example of when candidates had reached a consensus. “In 1999, Pradeep Kumar Shrestha and Ravi Bhakta Shrestha had reached a consensus, through which Pradeep took the helm of FNCCI first and Ravi was his successor.” FNCCI is going to hold an election for the post of president on July 3 for the remaining tenure of the present executive committee that will expire by April, 2017. The post has remained vacant after its president Pradeep Jung Pandey was sentenced to jail in a three-decade-old corruption charge on March 18, this year. Candidacy should be filed till June 27 as per the rules set by the election committee of FNCCI. And so far, some of the candidates have shown their willingness to lead the FNCCI. In this situation, FNCCI patrons have come forward seeking consensus among the aspirants. “We are even willing to facilitate the negotiations, if necessary,” said Ravi Bhakta Shrestha, another past president of FNCCI. The past presidents, however, said they were not against election if the candidates failed to reach a consensus. “We don’t support an election in this situation, but aspirants are free to utilise their right to go for an election as per FNCCI statute,” said Suraj Vaidya, immediate past president of FNCCI in the press meet. The pact signed by the past presidents of FNCCI also states that any office bearer wanting to file for candidacy in the upcoming election should first resign from their current post. “There are no such criteria in the FNCCI statute and introducing such rules obviously points towards prejudice,” Pashupati Murarka, officiating president of the FNCCI, told The Himalayan Times. As per FNCCI sources, Murarka; Executive Member and Chair of the Agro Enterprise Centre Bhawani Rana and former senior vice president of FNCCI Bhaskar Raj Rajkarnikar have shown interest to lead the FNCCI. Reportedly, Rajkarnikar and Rana have even negotiated to lead the FNCCI one after the other.