Deputy Speaker: Who are in the race?

The post of Deputy Speaker is lying vacant after former Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe stepped down as per the party directives.

Amrit Raj Kaphle

January 29, 2020

6 MIN READ

Deputy Speaker: Who are in the race?

With the resumption of parliament, the quest for Deputy Speaker is sure to be intensified soon. (File Photo/Khabarhub)

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KATHMANDU: Putting an end to the one-and-half-a-month impasse at the House of Representatives (HoR), the political leadership managed to nominate and later elect Agni Prasad Sapkota as the Speaker. The decision of the main opposition party, the Nepali Congress (NC) to not field its candidacy paved the way for Sapkota to be elected unopposed on Sunday.

The dispute over who should be the Speaker was settled after Prime Minister KP Oli, also one of the party chairmen of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), stopped lobbying for his candidate Subash Chandra Nemwang.

Meanwhile, the post of Deputy Speaker is lying vacant after former Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe stepped down as per the party directives.

NCP’s role is vital to elect a Deputy Speaker due to its remarkable presence in the HoR as no party candidate can be elected to the post without taking the NCP into confidence. The NCP, however, is yet to make its stance clear as to which party it will be supporting.

Ruling NCP had sought her resignation as the constitutional provisions do not permit the Speaker and Deputy Speaker from the same party. NCP chose the key post of Speaker prompting the speculations on who would bag the post of Deputy Speaker of the HoR.

Here, NCP’s role is vital to elect a Deputy Speaker due to its remarkable presence in the HoR as no party candidate can be elected to the post without taking the NCP into confidence. The NCP, however, is yet to make its stance clear as to which party it will be supporting.

Responding to journalists’ query about the ruling party’s intent in the selection of the Deputy Speaker, PM Oli said that his party would soon decide on it. “We will decide on the issue soon,” he said.

Can Nepali Congress bag Deputy Speaker?

Despite NC’s claim that it would decide whether to vie for the post only after getting the name of the ruling party’s candidate, informal sources have claimed that NC is in a mood to propose Dr. Pushpa Bhusal for the post. This, as political observers say, was the reason why NC supported NCP’s candidate Sapkota.

“Speaker is the mouthpiece of the parliament, hence, whoever is elected has to be the leader of all members in parliament,” Bal Krishna Khand, the Chief Whip of NC said.

Prior to the meeting called to settle the issue related to party’s candidate for the Speaker, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba and NCP Chairman Puspa Kamal Dahal had had a telephone conversation on the issue, sources said.

The leaders had agreed that NC would let Sapkota get unanimous support in the parliament when NCP would support NC for the post of Deputy Speaker.

However, Dr. Minendra Rijal, a NC lawmaker, has already made it clear that his party would not bargain for the post of Deputy Speaker. “We won’t stand with a begging bowl, asking the post in alms,” Dr. Rijal has said.

When asked whether NC would vie for the post, NC Spokesperson Bishwo Prakash Sharma said provided major political parties have consensus on it, NC would put forward its claim as well. “Nevertheless, our party will not request any party for their favor,” Sharma said.

Rastriya Janata Party the key claimant  

Despite speculations about the possibility of assigning the post to Rastriya Janata Party (RJP) as it had been supported the ruling party in nominating Sapkota as Speaker, RJP, too, has claimed that the party is undecided on the issue.

RJP has partnered with the ruling NCP both in the Speaker’s case and the National Assembly election held recently. Sources have claimed that RJP has intensified talks with NCP about the change of government coalition in Province 2. However, RJP senior leaders are tight-lipped on the issue.

Claiming that RJP has not discussed on the Deputy Speaker’s issue, Rajendra Mahato, a member of the party presidium said, “The constitutional provision hails that the Speaker and the Deputy should not be from a single party,” Mahato said. He added that since NCP has the majority, whoever it proposes will get the post of Deputy Speaker.

He clarified that his party has not discussed on the issue with the ruling NCP as of now. “However, if they assign the post to us, it would not be a problem,” he added hinting at the possibility of getting the post.

Who is NCP looking at?

Earlier, the NCP was ‘in a mood’ to field Durga Poudel of Rastriya Janamorcha, its key election partner in some places in Province 4 and 5. However lately, the NCP changed its stance as Rastriya Janamorcha showed its disinterest in the post since it has only one lawmaker in the HoR, there would be no one to raise Janamorcha’s issue in the Parliament.

Formally, NCP seems to be in a dilemma on the issue. However, it has been widely speculated that NCP could offer NC the post as a token of ‘consensus politics’.

With the resumption of the Federal Parliament with a new Speaker in the post on January 28, the quest for Deputy Speaker is sure to be intensified soon.

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