Nepali Congress (NC) leaders have started to request the central office for removal of their names from the closed list of candidates for Proportional Representation electoral system of the House of Representatives (HoR) to become candidate for the upcoming National Assembly election.
The government has already decided to hold election for 19 National Assembly seats that will be vacant from March 4, 2024 on January 25 next year. The term of Bimala Rai Paudel, who was nominated by the then president on recommendation of the then KP Sharma Oli government, is also set to expire on March 4.
NC leaders including former vice-president Gopal Man Shrestha, and central members Ananda Dhungana, Abdul Satar, Bal Krishna Pandey and others have already applied for removal of their names form the PR list, according to Chief Secretary of NC Krishna Prasad Paudel.
Those in the PR list cannot contest in National Assembly election.
Paudel said that the central committee will discuss the applications and take necessary decisions. “We will write to the Election Commission for withdrawal of the names only after the central committee endorses it,” he stated.
Nine of the 20 members whose term is set to expire in March are from UML including Bimala Rai Paudel nominated by the president. The term of current National Assembly Chairman Ganesh Prasad Timalsina, who was elected on a UML ticket, is also set to expire in March.
The National Assembly members whose term is set to expire also includes four from NC, three from CPN (Maoist Center), two from CPN (Unified Socialist), one from Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) and independent lawmaker Khim Lal Devkota.
The ruling coalition looks set to continue the alliance even for National Assembly election. The coalition partners look set to retain their respective seats, and share the nine UML seats (including the one nominated by president) while deciding about the common coalition candidates. “We have yet to decide about sharing of seats though. There is time,” NC leader Min Bahadur Bishwokarma said.
There are also rumors about former NC general secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula becoming the next National Assembly chairman. Sitaula has lost in both the general elections after promulgation of the new Constitution in 2015.
Sitaula, who had supported Sher Bahadur Deuba in the last two general conventions, had expressed wish for the post of president but NC President Deuba asked him to give up his aspirations for Ram Chandra Paudel with assurance of future opportunity, according to an NC office-bearer.
“Sitaula can even become National Assembly chairman if he becomes a candidate in the election or is nominated by the president on recommendation of the government,” the office-bearer added revealing that Gopal Man Shrestha also aspires for the position. “Chairman would be picked with consensus of top coalition leaders including NC president and the prime minister.”
Sitaula’s associate Kiran Sitaula, however, claimed that leaders had yet to discuss about National Assembly chair as rumored. “There are talks about him (Sitaula) becoming National Assembly chairman outside. But I don’t think that leaders have discussed the issue with him. Repeated talks are being held with Deuba though,” Kiran Sitaula stated.