KATHMANDU: CPN-UML Vice-Chair Bidya Devi Bhandari has been elected the first female and second President of Federal Democratic Republic Nepal, defeating Nepali Congress veteran leader Kul Bahadur Gurung.
During the election held at the Legislature-Parliament building on Wednesday, Bhandari garnered 327 votes, 28 more than 299 votes that she needed to be elected as the President.
Gurung, however, accumulated 214 votes.
Eight votes were declared invalid.
Total 549 members had cast their votes in the election.
It has been learned that 47 members were absent in the election and one was suspended.
Speaker Onsari Gharti, during the Parliament meeting, declared Bhandari as the new President of the nation.
Lawmakers Sheela Khadka and Madhu Shahi Thakuri of Nepali Congress, lawmakers Bhakti Pandey and Surendra Prasad Jaiswal of UCPN-Maoist and lawmakers of Madhes-based political parties were absent in the election.
Though United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) boycotted the election, Sadhbhawana Party, one of the constituents of the alliance, lawmaker Madhavi Rani Sah cast her vote.
Sadhbhawana Party lawmaker Sanjay Sah, who was suspended after being arrested on numerous cases including 2012 Janakpur bomb blast, which had killed five people, was not allowed to cast the vote. Sah is still in the custody.
Speaker Gharti also did not cast her vote.
Bhandari was supported by 14 political parties including her party.
CPN-UML Chairman and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli cast his vote at 11:25 am.
Similarly, Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala cast his vote at 12:10 pm.
Bhandari, the widow of popular communist leader Madan Bhandari, was proposed by UCPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and leaders of coalition partners Kamal Thapa, Yogendra Chaudhary, Dipak Bohora, CP Mainali, Prem Bahadur Singh, Jayadev Joshi, Chitra Bahadur KC, Shivalal Thapa, Biswendra Paswan, Laxman Rajbanshi, Eknath Dhakal and Meghraj Nepali seconded Bhandari’s candidacy.
Madhes-based political parties, which had voted for Sushil Koirala during the prime ministerial election, did not participate in the presidential election.
Ram Baran Yadav, the then General Secretary of the Nepali Congress, was elected the first President of Nepal on July 21, 2008.
Yadav is the first person outside the royal family to be the Head of the State of Nepal, breaking the centuries-old tradition which reserved the coveted title to the eldest son of the Shah Dynasty.
Yadav had served as Minister of Health from 1999 to 2001.
He had received 308 out of the 590 votes cast in the Constituent Assembly, defeating UCPN-Maoist’s Ram Raj prasad Singh.
Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri had administered the oath of office and secrecy to Yadav at Sheetal Niwas on July 23, 2008.
As the first Constituent Assembly failed to issue a new constitution, Yadav got a chance to serve as the President for seven years and three months.
It has been learned that newly elected Bhandari will be sworn-in on Thursday by Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha.
The next meeting of the Parliament has been scheduled for Saturday.