Bhandari in fray for President post?

Kathmandu, October 13

Chairman of Unified CPN-Maoist Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who is believed to be the main architect of the formation of UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli-led government, today proposed UML Vice-Chair Bidhya Bhandari’s name for President.

According to sources at Prime Minister Oli’s personal secretariat, Dahal proposed Bhandari’s name during a meeting with Oli to discuss names for ministers and other vital posts. Sources claimed that Dahal told Oli that Bhandari would be the most suitable candidate for the post of President, as UCPN-M was not interested in the post and Bhandari could be the first woman President.

Following Dahal’s proposal, Oli put forth the idea among his party leaders for consideration.

However, Dahal’s Personal Secretary Chudamani Khadka claimed that during the discussions held between Dahal and Oli, eight ministries were allocated to UCPN-M and Dahal did not propose Bhandari’s name. UCPN-M has been given home, local development, forest, commerce and supplies and general administration. It is also likely to get tourism, energy or education and health, said Khadka. UCPN-M Treasurer Haribol Gajurel has already assumed the office as the Minister for Agriculture Development.

UML sources claimed that the party would have 9-10 ministries, RPP-N three, RPP one or two and other fringe parties one each at the most.

The ruling coalition partners are holding negotiations on four key posts – President, Vice-president, Speaker and Deputy Speaker -- and they are yet to decide on the candidates.

President is likely to be from CPN-UML, while vice-president and speaker are likely to be from UCPN-M.

The Parliament will meet again at 3:00pm tomorrow to begin the process of electing speaker and deputy speaker. Sources close to Nembang said parties would be given only one day to find common candidates for speaker and deputy speaker and if they failed to produce common names the Parliament would hold election for the posts by Saturday.

The Parliament will begin the process to elect President and Vice-President immediately after Dashain. Dahal’s Personal Secretary Chudamani Khadka said UCPN-M’s standing committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning would take necessary decision on who to give ministerial berths and other posts allocated to the party. NC sources claimed that the party was also preparing to field its candidates for all the vital posts, including President, Vice-president, Speaker and Deputy Speaker.