Sapkota elected HoR speaker unopposed

Kathmandu, January 26

Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Agni Prasad Sapkota, 62, was elected speaker of the House of Representatives unopposed today.

President Bidhya Bhandari will administer oath of office and secrecy to Sapkota at 11:00am tomorrow.

Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Mahantha Thakur, who presided over the HoR meeting as senior most member of the HoR, announced that Sapkota was elected unopposed as he was the only candidate for the post of speaker.

The post of speaker fell vacant on 1 October 2019 when Krishna Bahadur Mahara resigned from the post after a female staffer of the Parliament Secretariat filed a first information report accusing him of attempt to rape. Mahara is in judicial custody.

Deputy Parliamentary Party leader of the NCP Subas Chandra Nembang, who was NCP Cochair and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s favourite till the last hour, proposed Sapkota’s candidacy. Sapkota, the favourite of NCP Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, won the party’s nomination for the post after Dahal’s repeated attempts to rally support for him within the party. Dahal secured Sapkota’s nomination as he had the backing of some other senior party leaders including Bamdev Gautam, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal.

NCP lawmakers Dev Prasad Gurung, Onsari Gharti, Nepali Congress lawmaker Minendra Rijal and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna seconded Sapkota’s candidacy. Rijal said although people were saying the NC did not field its candidate for speaker as it had bargained for the post of deputy speaker, his party would not beg for the post.

He said the constitution stipulated that the post of speaker and deputy speaker should go to two different parties and since the ruling party had its candidate for speaker, it was now up to the NCP to decide which party it would offer the post of deputy speaker. The ruling NCP has 174 members in the 275- member HoR. He said Sapkota would have the challenge of projecting himself as a neutral person in the House and should win confidence of all the parties. Rijal said there was growing concern that the government might try to shrink the democratic space in the future and Sapkota should remain vigilant and guard against any such attempt. Rijal informed the HoR that the NC parliamentary party’s working committee had decided not to contest election for speaker.

Sapkota told media persons on the premises of the Parliament that he would devote all his effort to play a neutral and impartial role in the House.

The ruling NCP cannot contest the deputy speaker election given the constitutional provision that speaker and deputy speaker shall be representatives of different parties and genders.

Sapkota, a three-time Member of Parliament, was born in Kuvinde village, Sindhupalchowk on 7 March 1958. He is a permanent resident of Ward No 4, Chautara Sangachowkgadi Municipality, Sindhuplachowk. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Tribhuvan University.

A former school teacher, Sapkota was involved in the teaching profession for 15 years before he quit teaching after the restoration of democracy in 1990 to become a full-time communist cadre. He was headmaster of a secondary school.

Sapkota, who started his political career in 1978 after joining NCP Fourth Convention, became a member of United People’s Front after the restoration of democracy in 1990. He became a member of NCP Unity Centre in 1994 before being associated with the CPN (Maoist) the same year.

A year later, he went underground after the Maoist party launched the people’s war. He was seriously injured on 27 March 2006 when members of the Nepali Army fired shots from a helicopter at a programme organised in Thokarpa, Sindhupalchowk.

He is a Standing Committee member of the ruling NCP.