Kathmandu, January 19
Putting an end to months-long stalemate, the ruling Nepal Communist Party today nominated standing committee member Agni Sapkota as candidate for the speaker of the House of Representatives.
A meeting of the NCP central secretariat held this evening in Baluwatar took a decision to this effect, NCP General Secretary Bishnu Paudel told mediapersons after the meeting.
Earlier in the morning, NCP co-chairs KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal had agreed to nominate Sapkota for the post. The post has remained vacant since Krishna Bahadur Mahara’s arrest in October on the charge of attempt to rape.
The delay in deciding on candidate for speaker on the part of the NCP has forced the HoR meeting to be postponed thrice this Bill Session that began on December 20. The next HoR meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow.
The delay was basically due to Dahal and Oli having different favourites for the post. While Oli was in favour of former speaker Subas Chandra Nembang, Dahal was under pressure from his former CPN-MC colleagues not to forego the speaker’s post they were allocated before they merged with the former CPN-UML to become the NCP.
NCP standing committee member Devendra Paudel said today’s decision was a result of realisation on the part of the two co-chairs that it was not ideal to hold the Parliament, and the country, hostage to their personal stands. “The party took the decision in line with the spirit of party unification,” he told THT.
With the latest decision, Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe will now have to tender her resignation to pave the way for the election of speaker. As per the constitutional provision, speaker and deputy speaker cannot be from the same party and have to be of different genders.
Tumbahangphe, who has also staked her claim to the speaker’s post, has maintained she will resign once the party decides on a candidate for speaker. THT’s attempts to reach Tumbahangphe over phone on her next move failed.
If Tumbahangphe puts in her papers tomorrow, the senior-most lawmaker will preside over the HoR meeting, which will then announce a date for the election of both speaker and deputy speaker.
Parliament Secretariat Spokesperson Dasharath Dhamala said if tomorrow’s meeting announced a date for the election and political parties agreed on a fast-track process, filing of nominations and election could be completed by Tuesday. If not, filing of nominations could be done on Tuesday and election on Wednesday, added Dhamala. “This depends on how political parties want the process to proceed,” he said.
Since the NCP will now have to give up the deputy speaker’s post, the ruling party has to decide which candidate from which party to support. “The NCP will take a decision by holding consultations with other parties once the election process begins,” Nembang told THT.
A version of this article appears in print on January 20, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.