Top CPN-UML leaders have instructed to decide parliamentary party leader on consensus as far as possible despite the party’s standing committee taking a decision to hold election for that.
The top leaders have told the provincial leaders to reach a consensus after the main contenders for the post of chief minister (CM) started to lobby with the top leaders for the post.
A leader close to UML Chairman KP Oli said, “Chairman had not given words for CM to any leader who had opted to contest provincial elections right from the beginning. He is, therefore, still telling the aspirants to select provincial leadership on consensus as far as possible or go for an election if that is not possible.”
UML and CPN (Maoist Center) have agreed a 4:2 sharing of CMs in the six provinces where the left alliance has majority. Shankar Pokharel has already been unanimously elected parliamentary party leader in Province and looks set to become CM there. But there is intense competition between the factions of Oli and former party chief Madhav Kumar Nepal in Province 1, 3 and 4 where UML will get CM.
Two leaders of Oli faction—Prithvi Subba Gurung and Kiran Gurung—are in race in province 4. UML is facing difficulty in management of these two leaders as the party has already agreed to give the post of speaker in the province to Maoist Center. Prithvi Subba Gurung is considered to have a bigger chance if an election were to be held.
Former information and communications minister Sher Dhan Rai, from Oli faction, and former tourism minister Bhim Acharya, from Nepal faction, are in the race for CM of Province 1.
Ashta Laxmi Shakya from Nepal faction and Rajendra Pandey, who had switched camps only recently to join Oli faction, are in the race in Province 3. Dor Mani Paudel and Keshav Sthapit, both from the Oli faction, are also in the race. Sthapit is a former mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Paudel former mayor of Hetauda.
Some leaders of Nepal faction are also lobbying to get Shakya elected unanimously in Province 3 leaving Province 1 to Sher Dhan Rai through agreement between the two top leaders. That looks a real possibility, according to some UML leaders, as Nepal faction has more sympathy toward Shakya than Bhim Acharya, and Oli faction toward Rai than Pandey.
Acharya is closer to former chairman Jhala Nath Khanal than Nepal while Pandey, who lost the election for party vice chairman from Nepal faction, has joined the Oli faction only recently.
The top leaders have told the aspirants for CM and speaker to forge consensus as far as possible. “All the contenders till now say s/he must be made CM or there should be an election till now. But there is a chance of the main contenders for CM in Province 1 and 3 agreeing on sharing the post of CM and speaker,” the leader close to Oli said.
But the aspirants seem to be in no mood to leave the post of the CM to other contender, and may opt for an election rather than agreeing to leave the post to the contender.
Acharya, who looks likely to win the election in Province 1 where Nepal faction has comfortable majority in the assembly, had demanded that an election should be held to decide the post of CM in all provinces during the standing committee meeting itself.