National

Mahara ahead in Speaker race

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 9, 2018-Former deputy prime minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara is all set to become Speaker of the House of Representatives as the ruling left alliance has agreed to allot the constitutional position to the CPN (Maoist Centre).

Since the posts of President and prime minister have gone to the CPN-UML, another top position would be given to the Maoist Centre besides the vice-presidency. The Maoist Centre has supported the candidacy of Bidya Devi Bhandari, whom the UML Standing committee picked as the presidential candidate for a second time on Tuesday night.

Prime Minister and UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and Maoist Centre chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal met on Thursday to discuss power-sharing issues and the candidates for the Speaker, deputy Speaker and chairman and vice-chairman of the National Assembly.

“The two leaders have decided to field Mahara as the Speaker candidate on Friday,” said Ganga Dahal, a member of Dahal’s secretariat.

Mahara said he was the most probable candidate from the party but a formal decision was yet to be taken. Since the left alliance has a near two-thirds majority in the Lower House, any candidate that the ruling parties field will have sure victory. The main opposition Nepali Congress has not claimed the post.

Subas Nembang, chairman of the two constituent assemblies from 2008 to 2015, has shown his interest in the post. Nembang can be Speaker only if the UML gets the post, said a top leader of the senior coalition partner.

Candidate nomination has been scheduled between 10am and 1pm on Friday while the election will be held at 1pm on Saturday. According to the Parliament Secretariat, the deputy speaker will be elected on Monday.

Mahara’s candidacy, however, will not be free of controversy within the party. Maoist leaders have criticised their leadership for repeatedly giving powerful positions to the same person.

Mahara has become minister for at least half a dozen times. He was the deputy prime minister and foreign minister in the previous government led by NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba.

Leaders including Giriraj Mani Pokhrel and Dev Prasad Gurung were also staking their claim to the post but Mahara, a close confidante of Chairman Dahal, is ahead of them in the race.

Former Speaker Onasari Gharti had also been lobbying for returning to the position citing imminent re-election of the President and the Vice President.

Published: 09-03-2018 08:30

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