Koirala, Oli vie for PM's chair

Kathmandu, October 10

Nepali Congress President and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli today filed their nominations at the Parliament for election of the prime minister to be held at 11:00am tomorrow.

With this, the NC and UML have parted ways splitting an alliance of the past 20 months. The parliament will elect the 38th prime minister of the country tomorrow.

UML leader Oli has garnered the support of at least 322 parliament members while none of the 31 parties in the Parliament, except the NC, has thrown support behind Koirala so far.

NC has 207 members in the House. A candidate needs 299 votes from the existing 598 members of Parliament.

Unified CPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal proposed Oli’s name while the other 13 fringe parties and one independent member signed as supporters of Oli in his nomination paper. The other parties, including the agitating Madhes-based parties and some fringe parties, who have the remaining 69 votes, have not decided who to vote for yet.

Oli’s supporters include Kamal Thapa of Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal, CP Mainali of CPN-Marxist Leninist, Dipak Bohara of Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Chitra Bahadur KC of Rastriya Janamorcha, Ram Kumar Rai of Khumbuwan Rastriya Morcha, Laxman Rajbanshi of Nepa: Rastriya Party, Bishwendra Paswan of Bahujan Shakti Party, Shivalal Thapa of Janamukti Party, Prem Bahadur Singh of Samajbadi Janata Party, Kumar Khadka of Akhanda Nepal Party, Hari Charan Sah of Nepali Janata Dal, Yashoda Kumari Lama of Dalit Janajati Party and independent member Atahar Kamal Musalman.

NC’s senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba proposed Koirala’s name, while the party’s Vice-president Ramchandra Paudel seconded the nomination filed by Koirala. Before filing his nomination, Koirala reached the office of President Ram Baran Yadav and tendered his resignation to clear the way for his nomination. Yadav approved Koirala’s resignation today itself.

After filing his nomination, PM Koirala said, “I have filed the nomination as per the Central Working Committee’s decision of my party. The consensus, cooperation and unity among the parties will not break whether Olijee wins or I win the vote. If I win I will cooperate with him and if he wins he should cooperate with me. This is democratic exercise.”

After filing his nomination, Oli said, “I believe the NC will support my candidacy as per the past agreements, whatever decision it took today.”

Sushil Koirala’s decision to file nomination after Oli filed his nomination with the support of comfortable majority has surprised party members, according to party sources. The Central Working Committee meeting of the party, yesterday, had mandated three top leaders — Koirala, Deuba and Paudel — to decide on the issue of government formation. “Koirala, yesterday evening, had told senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ramchandra Paudel to reach agreement till this morning on which of the two should become the prime ministerial candidate. He had said that he would not become candidate for both PM and president. However, Koirala changed yesterday’s decision this morning expressing his desire to file nomination. He took the decision overnight and broke the politics of consensus among parties.

Meanwhile, the NC called on all parties to vote for Koirala during tomorrow’s election. Stating that the coalition partner UML did not support the NC’s attempt to ensure the rights of Madhesi and indigenous communities through amendment to the new constitution, the NC requested all to support the party in order to safeguard the long-term interest of the country, said the NC in a statement issued by party spokesperson Dilendra Prasad Badu.

Oli’s strength: 322

Koirala’s strength: 207

Undecided votes: 69

Required vote to become PM: 299

Total number of parliament members: 598