Nepal: Election for a President and Vice-President
Election for a President and Vice-President in Nepal
By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar
The political consensus on selecting the first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal has not reached among the three major political parties such as Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML). So, an election for a president is going to be held on Saturday, July 19, 2008 pursuant to the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007. In this election any Nepali of 35 years of age could be a candidate on the recommendations of five Constituent Assembly (CA) members. If any of the candidates could not receive the required majority of 298 votes from among the sitting 598 members in the election, the candidate with the least votes would be eliminated for the second round of election according to the election officer.
The CPN-Maoist in cooperation with the Madhesh-based political parties such as Madheshi People’s Rights’ Forum (MPRF), Terai-Madhesh Democratic Party (TMDP) and Nepal Sadhabhava Party-Mahato (NSP-Mahato) fielded Ram Raja Prasad Singh for a president; the NC fielded its General Secretary Ram Baran Yadav, and the CPN-UML Ram Bir Paswan for a president.
The CPN-Maoist put up Shanta Shrestha for a Vice-president, the NC Man Bahadur Biswokarma, the CPN-UML Astha Laxmi Shakya, and the MPRF Permanada Jha.
The three major political parties could not reach a consensus on selecting a president, as they differ with each other in selecting a president. The NC stuck to its choice of incumbent Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala for a president. However, both of the CPN-Maoist and CPN-UML differed with the NC on its choice. The CPN-UML also did not budge from its stand on choosing its former General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal for a president. The CPN-Maoist preferred Ram Raja Prasad Singh for a president to any other candidates.
Incumbent Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala is certainly a better choice in absence of any other better candidates for a president. However, he had made a terrible impression upon the minds of the Nepalese people during his term of office of Prime Minister for almost 15 years. He made one step forward in making a New Nepal but at the same time he put as much efforts possible as on maintaining status quo. He has his own circle of men through whom he ruled Nepal for about 15 years. He pretends to be almost dying whenever he does not want to attend a meeting or see a person.
Madhav Kumar Nepal was a Deputy Prime Minister during the minority government of the CPN-UML in 1995. He behaved as if he was the Prime Minister of the majority government and made decisions even bypassing the then-Prime Minister Man Mohan Adhikari. Thereafter, he put his major efforts on criticizing others rather than improving his distorted image. So, in his own words, Nepalese people rejected him in the election for a CA held on April 10, 2008.
Ram Raja Prasad Singh was a lawyer by profession. He won a seat in the direct election for the then-national legislature called national Panchayat from the prestigious nationwide graduates’ constituency in 1971. He strongly criticized the monarchy in his election manifesto in 1975. He was put to jail for this statement and released only after the announcement of the referendum on selecting between the improved Panchayat system and multiparty democratic system in 1979. After the release from the prison he set up a political party called Janabadi Morcha. He took responsibility for series of bombs blasted at the royal palace gate and Annapurna hotel and advocated the abolition of the monarchy and establishment of a republic in Nepal in 1985 for which he was sentenced to death in absentia.
The CPN-Maoist and Madheshi-based political parties think Ram Raja Prasad Singh is the most appropriate candidate for the first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal as he was the first person opting for making Nepal a republic at the risk of his life. The combined strength of the CPN-Maoist and the Madheshi parties are well above the required majority of 298 votes for electing a president. Mr. Singh is a Madheshi Nepali.
Among the Vice-presidential candidates, both of the CPN-Maoist’s candidate Shanta Shrestha and CPN-UML’s candidate Astha Laxmi Shakya have a better chance of winning the election in view of making the Nepalese presidency inclusive, as both of them are women and both of them represent the Newar community.
Despite the efforts made by the NC on making incumbent Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala a president and by the CPN-UML on making its former General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal a president, they did not nominate them to a candidate for a president rather both of these political parties nominated the men of Madheshi origin to the candidate for a president.
Both of the NC and CPN-UML certainly know that without the support of the CPN-Maoist their candidates have no chance of winning the presidency. So, both of these political parties opted for Madheshi candidates making them jokers in the political game playing to please the Madheshi people.
The CPN-Maoist says that the NC and CPN-UML have stuck to their choice of candidates for a president going against the people’s aspirations. The NC was for making Girija Prasad Koirala a president whereas the CPN-UML was for making its General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal a president. Majority of the Nepalese people are not for making anyone of them a president according to the CPN-Maoist.
Girija Prasad Koirala was not so popular among the NC members not to mention the Nepalis in general because of his closed-circled-working style and protection of the corrupt party members and relatives. He had been a part of the regressive force attempting to stop the making of Nepal a republic in the past according to political analysts. So, it would be irony if such a person becomes the first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.
Regarding former General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal, he had been a little better than Girija Prasad Koirala in his position on the abolition of the monarchy and making Nepal a republic. He had been so flexible that at one time he was ready to accept any condition of the king if he was made a Prime Minster. So, it was no wonder that he lost the election for the CA in both of the constituencies where he filed his nomination. If such a person becomes a president it would be certainly against the Nepalese people’s aspirations.
One of the leaders of the CPN-UML, Bhim Rawal speaking on the telephone at the Radio Nepal’s morning program called ‘Antar Sambad’ on July 18, 2008 said if the CPN-Maoist rejected the candidacy of Madhav Kumar Nepal for a president based on his election defeat the candidate the CPN-Maoist chose was also not successful in the election for the CA and his party called Janabadi Morcha was also not successful to get elected even a single candidate for the CA seat in the election held on April 10, 2008.
Going against the Nepalese people’s aspirations for all political parties cooperating with each other and working on a consensus on every aspects of the Nepalese political life, all of the political parties have started distancing from each other, as they could not reach a consensus on selecting a first president of Federal Democratic of Nepal.