Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba will be the ruling Nepali Congress party’s candidate for the post of prime minister in the new government after he was elected the parliamentary party leader on Wednesday.
The 76-year-old Nepali Congress president, who has served as the prime minister for a record fifth term, defeated his challenger party general secretary Gagan Kumar Thapa by 39 votes, officials said.
Deuba secured 64 votes, while Thapa could muster only 25 votes, they said.
All 89 lawmakers of the party participated in the voting.
The win means that Deuba will possibly lead the next government after the Nepali Congress emerged as the single-largest party in the general elections held on November 20.
Prime Minister Deuba thanked party lawmakers for making him the parliamentary party leader and said that he will work to create a party free from obstacles.
“Everyone helped me win. Thank you very much. I will keep the party free from hurdles in the coming days by moving this party forward well,” he said.
Thapa, 45, was the lone challenger to Deuba.
Both submitted their nominations on Tuesday.
Senior party leader Ram Chandra Paudel proposed Deuba’s nomination and was seconded by Purna Bahadur Khadka.
Dr Shekhar Koirala proposed Thapa’s nomination, which was supported by Bishwa Prakash Sharma, Pradeep Paudel and Dhanraj Gurung.
The election was delayed for about an hour on Wednesday due to the disagreement over whether cell phones should be permitted in the voting booth, according to My Republica newspaper.
Nepali Congress lawmakers were asked to show up for the vote along with their election certificate, the report said.
It is the only national party to hold elections to select its parliamentary party leader.
The party has won 89 seats — 57 in the first past the post-election system and 32 in the proportional representation election system — in the House of Representatives in the recently-concluded general elections.
On Sunday, President Bidya Devi Bhandari called on all the political parties of Nepal to form a new government within seven days.
As no single party got a majority in the HoR election, the President has called for submitting a claim by a member of the HoR who can garner a majority with support from two or more parties, as stipulated in the Article 76 clause 2 of the Constitution.
The deadline for submission of the claim is 5 pm on December 25, according to a statement issued by the Office of the President.
The Nepali Congress along with the other ruling alliances has the combined strength of 136 seats, two seats short of forming the majority government.
Prime Minister Deuba last week discussed a power sharing deal with the coalition partner Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.
According to reports, Prachanda in his meeting with Deuba on Saturday formally sought his support to become prime minister in the first half of the five-year term.
While forging an electoral alliance ahead of the November 20 polls, Deuba and Prachanda had reportedly struck a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ on leading the government by turns.
Prachanda has been projecting himself as a claimant for the executive head since much before the elections in public forums.
Meanwhile, the oath-taking ceremony of newly elected members of the House of Representatives in the general election will be held on December 22, sources in the parliamentary secretariat said.
In the 275-member House of Representatives, 165 were elected through direct voting, while the remaining 110 were elected through the proportional electoral system.
Elections to the HoR and seven provincial assemblies were held to end the prolonged political instability that has plagued the Himalayan nation.
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