Sher Bahadur Deuba elected Nepali Congress president

KATHMANDU: Three-time Prime Minister and Nepali Congress senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba has been elected as the new president of the country's largest democratic party from its 13th National General Convention through runoff held on Monday.

Deuba garnered 1822 votes, while Ram Chandra Paudel was restricted to 1296 votes. A total of 3140 votes were cast, while only 3118 were considered valid.

Deuba defeated Paudel, the acting president of the party, by 526 votes.

Sher Bahadur Deuba: 1822

Ram Chandra Paudel: 1296

Invalid votes: 22

Total votes cast: 3140

Total number of voters: 3161

In the elections held yesterday, Deuba had bagged 1564 votes against Paudel's 1160 and Krishna Prasad Sitaula's 324. Though Deuba led the vote count, he fell 11 votes short of the mandatory 1575 votes to cross the 50 per cent mark of the total votes cast to win the elections.

Deuba bagged 58 per cent of votes to emerge as victorious today.

As per the party statute, the runoff was held between the two top contenders today to determine winner.

Deuba hails from Dadeldhura district in the far western Nepal, and is elected to the Parliament from there. He started his political career from the Nepali Congress party's student wing Nepal Students Union.

As many as 3140* representatives had cast their votes in the second stage of voting today, while 3148 representatives took part in the voting for the party's new leadership, including president, general secretary and members, in the elections yesterday.

Deuba was the president of Nepali Congress-Democratic, which was formed after the split in the Nepali Congress led by Girija Prasad Koirala, in 2002 following rift between him and Koirala.

Both the parties, however, unified in 2007, with Deuba acknowledged as the senior leader of the single party.

Paudel, who is the vice-president of the party, has been serving as the acting president of Nepali Congress after the death of Sushil Koirala in February.

The votes for the two posts of office bearers -- one general secretary and treasurer each -- and 61 Central Working Committee members from open and reservation categories will be counted later tomorrow. The ballot boxes have been kept at the party's central office in Sanepa after the elections yesterday.

The Nepali Congress gala, which kicked off, in Kathmandu on March 3 has already endorsed the party's policy and programmes from its closed session.

The 12th General Convention had elected Sushil Koirala as the party's top leader.

Earlier, Deuba had contested for the party's top position twice -- in the 10th General Convention against against Girija Prasad Koirala and in the 12th General Convention against Sushil Koirala.

*Number of votes cast?

Earlier it was said that 3120 representatives took part in the voting today. But during vote count, 3140 votes and sample ballot papers were found cast in ballot boxes, which invited a dispute for a while delaying the counting process this evening.

After consulting the representatives of the presidential candidates, the  Election Committee decided to consider counting 3140 ballot papers acknowledging that some human errors while handing over ballot papers to the voters would have led to the anomalies in the number of votes cast earlier.