Parties working to pick prez candidates today

- Post Report, Kathmandu
Ruling and opposition blocs have expedited consultations to seek support for their candidates

Oct 26, 2015-The ruling and opposition parties have expedited preparations to pick their President and Vice President candidates.

Constitutionally, the presidential post is ceremonial but ranks on top of all state positions. Both the fronts have expedited internal discussion to secure the key positions through the majority process.

The CPN-UML-led ruling coalition and the opposition parties have called their meetings on Monday to decide the names. A Standing Committee meeting of the UML on Monday morning is expected to pick the presidential candidate on behalf of the coalition partners.

Secretary Gokarna Bista said the UML Parliamentary Party meeting, also scheduled for Monday, will finalise the party’s candidates formally. The party is considering at least four probable names for President, informed sources said. In Saturday’s meeting held at the prime minister’s residence in Baluwatar, the names were discussed.

UML Vice-chairperson Bidhya Bhandari is on top of the list. Senior leaders Jhala Nath Khanal, former Speaker Subas Nembang and former minister Lalbabu Pandit were other probable candidates discussed in the meeting.

Party Chairman and Prime Minister KP Oli and General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel are lobbying for fielding Bhandari as the presidential candidate while a section of leaders favour Khanal.

Some Janajati leaders within the party want Nembang as the President while Madhav Kumar Nepal is pressing the party to field Pandit.

“Bhandari is the most probable candidate from our party,” said UML deputy spokesman Surya Thapa.

As per an agreement among the ruling parties, Maoist leader Nanda Kishor Pun is likely to be fielded as the Vice President. The UCPN (Maoist) has said it does not claim the President’s post.

“We are working to bring the Nepali Congress and the UML together to elect the President on the basis of consensus,” said Maoist spokesman Dina Nath Sharma.

“We have set a good precedent while electing the Speaker and the deputy Speaker unopposed. We want the same [to happen] in the presidential poll.”

Maoist leaders stress that the parties should seek a common candidate for the top post. If there is no consensus, the Maoist party, however supports a UML candidate as a ruling ally.

Coalition partners Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik and Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal are also in favour of a consensus candidate. MJF-J Chair Bijay Kumar Gachhadar wants an NC candidate to be elected the President.

The main opposition NC has called an office bearers’ meeting to decide its candidate. “But first, we want discussion with the ruling parties and seek their support to our candidate for effective implementation of the newly adopted constitution,” said NC leader Ram Hari Khatiwada. “We will field our candidate even if they refuse to support us.”

NC leaders argue that their support during the Speaker election was to set a course for unanimous election of their candidate as the new President.

According to him, the party could field Sushil Koirala or Chitra Lekha Yadav. NC has also proposed continuing with incumbent President Ram Baran Yadav or fielding former Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi as its candidate if the ruling UML and the Maoists agree.

Published: 26-10-2015 08:45

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