‘Left alliance shouldn’t have contested’

With the left alliance candidate for the post of deputy speaker — CPN-UML leader Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe — almost certain to win the election given the alliance’s majority in the House of Representatives and CPN-Maoist Centre’s Krishna Bahadur Mahara already elected to the post of speaker, legal eagles say it will be a breach of constitutional provision if the two parties eventually unify as per their plan.

Article 91 (2) of the constitution states that election for speaker and deputy speaker shall be so held that one of them is a woman and both are from different parties.

CPN-UML Chairman and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and CPN-Maoist Centre Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal have said that the two constituents of the left alliance will unify within a month.

An expert on constitution, Purna Man Shakya, said if the two parties unified, either the speaker or the deputy speaker should tender his/her resignation and make way for a representative of another party for the post. “The provision is not only applicable at the time of election, but for the entire tenure of the HoR,” he said.

Another expert on constitution, Bipin Adhikari, said the two parties could not continue to avail the ‘benefit’ the constitution offered after their unification.

Nepali Congress, the main opposition party, had not fielded its candidates for the posts of HoR speaker and chairperson of National Assembly, but decided to field its candidate for the post of deputy speaker as a ‘protest’ against the ruling parties’ decision to field the deputy speaker candidate.

NC Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma said morally the left alliance should not have contested the deputy speaker’s post. “They’ve been saying that they are not two parties but one, and plan to unify within a month. Either they shouldn’t have contested the post or they should tell people that they are two different parties,” he said. He added if they had projected a candidate from, say, Madhes-based parties, the NC would have extended its support the way it did during the election for HoR speaker and NA chairperson. The NC has fielded Pushpa Bhusal for deputy speaker’s post.

The HoR meeting slated for tomorrow will elect the deputy speaker, according to the Parliament Secretariat.

Ram Sahay Yadav, leader of the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal that has agreed to join the Oli-led government, said since one of the two posts should be vacated anyway after unification of the CPN-UML and the CPN-MC, it would have been better had the left alliance supported a candidate from a third party for deputy speaker’s post. “Spending time and resources on the same issue again makes no sense,” he said.

However, the CPN-UML claimed that the constitutional provision was only applicable during the election for the post, and not after. UML Secretary Pradeep Gyawali said it was a ‘non-issue’ and that things were being blown out of proportion.

“We could have held talks with the NC and reached understanding, but given the NC’s past conduct, especially during the appointment of governors and recommendation of three NA member nominees, it was not possible,” he said. “It is not a legal or constitutional issue, just a political issue.”