Congress fields Gurung
KATHMANDU, Oct 28: Kul Bahadur Gurung of the Nepali Congress (NC) and Bidya Devi Bhandari of CPN-UML have filed their candidacies for the post of president on Tuesday.
Though the largest party NC has fielded its central committee member and former general secretary Gurung for the post, UML Vice-chair Bhandari is likely to be elected as head of the state in an election to be held on Wednesday.
If there is no overnight dramatic change in the latest political scenario, Bhandari's victory has become almost certain as 12 ruling parties including the third and fourth largest parties — UCPN (Maoist) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N) — have pledged their support to Bhandari.
While registering Bhandari's candidacy at the parliament secretariat on Tuesday, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal proposed her candidacy and RPP-N Chairman Kamal Thapa seconded the proposal.
The UML has 183 seats in parliament while UCPN (Maoist) and RPP-N have 83 and 25 seats respectively. Likewise, other political parties supporting UML candidate are Madhesi People's Rights Forum-Democratic (14 seats), RPP (12), CPN-ML (5), Rastriaya Janamorcha (3), CPN-Samyukta (3), Nepal Family Party (2), Janamukti Party Democratic (2), Bahujan Shakti Party (1), Socialist People's Party (1), Nepa Rastriya Party (1) and Madhesh Samata Party (1).
UML leaders said they have spoken with even other parties that are undecided until Tuesday. "We have requested all the political parties in writing seeking votes for our candidate and we are confident that more political parties will vote for our candidate," UML Secretary Pradeep Gyawali told Republica. He said that various small political parties including Nepal Workers and Peasants Party (NWPP) will vote for Bhandari and that the party is certain about her victory.
Lawmaker Prem Suwal of NWPP, which had supported UML's KP Oli in prime minister's election, said that his party has yet to take final decision.
The party had earlier on Tuesday proposed Narayan Maharjan as candidate for the post but his candidacy was withdrawn later.
To get elected to the post, any of the two candidates needs to secure majority of the votes in the 601-member parliament. As the latest strength of the House is 597 as some seats are vacant for various reasons, any candidate securing 299 votes will get elected to the country's highest position.
NC General Secretary Prakash Man Singh proposed Gurung's candidacy and another general secretary from the same party Krishna Sitaula seconded it.
Nepali Congress’ presidential candidate Kul Bahadur Gurung waves to supporters after filing candidacy for president at parliament secretariat at New Baneshwar, Kathmandu on Tuesday. (Dipesh Shrestha/Republica)
As of Tuesday evening, no other political party has offically announced to vote for NC candidate.
However, Singh said that a team of the NC has been holding talks with various political parties and that he is optimistic that Gurung will get sufficient votes from various political parties for his election to the post.
"We have been negotiating with all the political parties represented in parliament and we are also talking directly to individual lawmakers. Since it is going to be a secret voting, lawmakers will vote for our candidate given his contribution in democratic movments and his personality fit for the highest position," Singh told Republica.
The agitating Madhes-based political parties are undecided. Leaders from these parties said neither the NC nor the UML have held serious talks with them on the matter and that they are in a mood to boycott the vote.
Laxman Lal Karna, co-chairman of Sadbhavana Party, said that the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) that has been leading the agitation in the Tarai-Madhes districts has so far not taken any official decision about the election.
"Though the Front hasn't taken any official decision in this connection, all the agitating political parties have made up their minds to boycott the vote," said Karna. According to him, most of the lawmakers from these parties are in their home districts.
Candidate Bhandari urged all the political parties to stand united in favor of her candidacy so that she can play a uniting role in future.
"The party has given me an important responsibility. I assure one and all that I won't betray anyone by not fulfilling the duty," she said after filing her candidacy.
Gurung described the election as a fundamental practice of democratic competition and that he is confident that lawmakers will vote for him.
The parliament secretariat plans to start secret voting from 11 am and all lawmakers will have to vote by 2 pm, Wednesday. The secretariat has said the election result will be announced at a parliament meeting at 5 pm Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the secretariat has postponed the election for vice president for Saturday. Earlier it was announced to elect both the president and vice-president on Wednesday.
Published on: My Republica (October 28, 2015)