Kathmandu, Oct 10 (IANS) CPN-UML chairman Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli has emerged the frontrunner as Nepal braces for the prime ministerial election on Sunday.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) chairman filed his candidacy on Saturday. He will be pitted against outgoing prime minister and Nepali Congress leader Sushil Koirala who too filed his nomination.
Oli, described as a “nationalist”, is supported by the UCPN-Maoist and the pro-Hindu Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal (RPP-N), the third and fourth largest groups in parliament.
As per a “gentlemen’s agreement” reached between the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist, a political section claimed that it was UML’s turn to rule Nepal after the promulgation of a new constitution last month.
UML leaders and UCPN-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ earlier said the agreement was reached among the top leaders of the major political parties.
Dismissing such an agreement, Nepali Congress leader Koirala has filed his candidacy for the Sunday election. But Koirala is not supported by any other political party.
Oli is almost sure to become the prime minister as the Maoists and RPP-N have over combined 100 votes. Oli’s CPN-UML has 183 votes.
Of the 599 seats in the Constituent Assembly, one needs 300 votes to be elected the prime minister.
Koirala’s candidature has led to a row and discontent in the Nepali Congress.
After he filed the nomination, the party’s joint secretary general, Purna Bahadur Khadka, resigned from his post alleging that Koirala did not keep his word.
He blamed India for Koirala’s bid to become the prime minster again.
Meanwhile, Madhes-based political parties, whose strength is 57 in the Constituent Assembly and which have been protesting near the Nepal-India border for over a month, have decided to vote in Koirala’s favour.
Similarly, after the Maoist party’s decision to vote for Oli, 29 Maoist leaders issued a press statement opposing the party’s decision.
Koirala, who is single and is known to have a clean image in politics, became prime minister in February 2014 and successfully led the nation in bringing out a new constitution.
Oli, a lifelong Left leader, is known to be hawkish and an ideologist.
There is growing sense in Kathmandu that due to the bonhomie between Oli and Prachanda, if the former becomes the prime minister, this will pave the way for the Maoist leader to become the president of Nepal.
(Anil Giri can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)