Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba has hinted about the main opposition party contesting the speaker election.
He has also challenged ruling CPN to leave the post to NC if it fails to select the party's candidate. "There seems to be a dispute in CPN. Do leave the post to us if you cannot decide about speaker. We will run the House," Deuba said in Morang on Wednesday.
NC has also called parliamentary party meeting on Friday to formulate strategy for the speaker election and has already started internal discussion on the issue.
NC Spokesperson Bishwo Prakash Sharma said on Thursday the party will forge strategy once CPN takes a decision.
Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe has been defying secretariat meeting's decision asking her to resign while the party has also not been able to select its candidate.
"If deputy speaker does not resign, CPN cannot file candidacy for speaker. There will only be election for the post," Sharma pointed. "If she resigns there will be election for both speaker and deputy speaker. We will decide about our candidate once the post that will go for election first becomes clear."
NC whip Pushpa Bhusal and lawmaker Chitralekha Yadav are aspirants for the post if election is held only for speaker. Bhusal had also contested the last election for deputy speaker with Tumbahangphe. Central member Yadav is a former deputy speaker.
The House meeting has already been postponed thrice due to the intra-party dispute in the ruling CPN about its candidate for speaker.
The secretariat meeting at the prime minister's residence in Baluwatar on Saturday had asked Deputy Speaker Tumbahangphe to resign even as she had already turned down the request by CPN Chairmen KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal to resign on Friday.
The chairman duo had urged Tumbahangphe to pave the way for speaker election by resigning during the meeting at the prime minister's residence in Baluwatar Friday. But she asked for the reasons that disqualified her from being the next speaker.
"I was active in student politics and am still active. I have studied and taught. What are my weaknesses?" a source quoted her as asking the chairmen.
She also took exception to comments of CPN Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha and chief whip Dev Gurung that the election process has been stalled due to her refusal to resign.
The source revealed that she urged the chairmen to allow her to continue as deputy speaker if deemed incompetent for speaker.
"I will now move the process forward and do the work I need to in capacity of deputy speaker," the source added her as saying. "The election process will move forward on Sunday. You all resolve the political issues."
Ruling CPN cannot claim for the post of speaker if the election process starts without her resigning. The senior most lawmaker will then run the House if she resigns.
The ruling party will have to ask Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe, whose allegiance is now with CPN having won the last general election on a CPN-UML ticket, to resign to keep the post of speaker with the party as the Constitution prohibits appointment of speaker and deputy speaker from the same party.
Both the former CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) factions are claiming for the post of speaker. Oli wishes to make former Constituent Assembly chairman Subas Chandra Nembang the speaker while Dahal has been insisting that Agni Sapkota from the Maoist faction should get the post.
The Maoist faction points that it should again get the post it had received during the power sharing before party unification.
Deputy Speaker Tumbahangphe's own claim for the post and refusal to resign if denied has compounded matters for the party.
The post of speaker is vacant after Krishna Bahadur Mahara resigned following rape allegation by a federal parliament secretariat staffer.