Prez Bhandari likely to continue

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 8, 2018-

Incumbent President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Nepali Congress (NC) leader Kumari Laxmi Rai have filed their nominations for the presidential election scheduled for March 13. Earlier, Bhandari was elected as President under the ‘transitional provision’ of the constitution. 

Bhandari filed her nomination on Wednesday after the UML Standing Committee meeting on Tuesday night picked her as presidential candidate. After the UML decided to  continue with Bhandari for a second term as President, a Nepali Congress Central Committee meeting also went for the female candidate, picking Rai for the presidential race. 

Coincidently, both the candidates hail from Bhojpur district. 

After filing her candidacy at the Election Officer’s office in New Baneshwor on Wednesday, Bhandari said her performance as the head of state over the last two and half years was like an open book. Bhandari was elected President in October 2015 after the promulgation of new constitution.

“I have performed my duty as per the constitutional and legal provisions and everyone is aware about my performance,” Bhandari said, claiming that she remained free of controversy during her tenure. 

But the NC has a different take, raising questions over her decision to snub the candidates recommended by NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba for the National Assembly. The main opposition, which had earlier indicated that it would not contest the election if the left alliance chooses other candidate, decided to enter the battlefield after the UML decision. 

“The NC-led government had recommended three members to NA but the President rejected them which proved that Bhandari failed in her constitutional role. That’s why we filed our candidacy for the election,” said Nepali Congress General Secretary Shashank Koirala. 

NC presidential candidate Rai said, “Following the party decisions, I have filed my nomination and I am happy to contest the election with Bhandari.” 

With the left alliance boasting a clear majority both in the Federal Parliament and Provincial Assemblies, Bhandari is likely to win the election. 

NC leaders said the party decided to contest the election to express its dissatisfaction over the President’s role. 

As per the constitution, the President is elected by an electoral college including federal and provincial parliament members.  A total of 334 members of the federal parliament, comprising 275 members of the House of Representatives, 59 of the National Assembly, and 550 members of Provincial Assemblies are eligible to vote. A vote of lawmakers in the Federal Parliament will have a weightage of 79 and those from Provincial Assemblies will have 48. With 148 lawmakers in the Federal Parliament and 243 in Provincial Assemblies, the CPN-UML has a total vote of 23,356. The NC, which has 76 seats in the Federal Parliament and 113 in Provincial Assemblies, has a total vote of 11,428. 

CPN (Maoist Centre) with 65 lawmakers in the Federal Parliament and 108 in Provincial Assemblies accounts for 10,319 votes. With the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal and other fringe parties deciding to support Bhandari, the incumbent President is likely to easily cross 26,921 votes required in the race on March 13.


How UML picked Bhandari? 

KATHMANDU: The Standing Committee meeting of UML which went late into Tuesday night picked Bidya Devi Bhandari as party’s candidate for the presidential election. Three names--Astha Laxmi Shakya, Jhala Nath Khanal and Bidya Devi Bhandari--were floated in the meeting. 

In the meeting, Khanal floated his own name as a candidate for presidency, saying that he is eligible for the role. “Khanal stood firmly against Bhandari’s candidacy for a second term. But few leaders backed him,” said a UML leader present at the meeting. 

While Bam Dev Gautam remained silent over his preference, senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal did not object the name of Bhandari.  However, some leaders including Yogesh Bhattarai and Ghana Shyam Bhusal questioned the role of Bhandari as President in the last two and half years and suggested party Chairman and Prime Minister KP Oli not to pick her for another term. 

Bhusal, who was rooting for Khanal, was dissatified over the party’s decision to pick Bhandari as its presidential candidate. 

Vice-chair Astha Laxmi Shakya appeared less critical of party Chairman Oli but more so of Bhandari, saying that she had been involved in the factional politics of the party. Bhattarai had proposed the name of senior leader Khanal as a presidential candidate, but PM Oli turned it down before confirming Bhandari’s name.  (PR)

Published: 08-03-2018 07:36

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