KATHMANDU, Dec 6: Ending months-long speculation, the Nepali Congress has finally proposed the party´s president, Sushil Koirala, as its candidate for the post of prime minister in a new, election government.
Former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba proposed Koirala´s name for the party´s candidacy and party Vice-president Ram Chandra Paudel seconded the proposal at the party´s central working committee meeting held Wednesday.
"At the central working committee meeting today [Wednesday], Sher Bahadurji proposed party President Sushil Koirala´s candidacy to head the new government to be formed through political consensus. I seconded the proposal and the meeting endorsed it unopposed," Paudel told reporters while emerging from the party head office at Sanepa, Lalitpur after the meeting.
PHOTO: BIJAY RAI
He said that the party took the decision in view of repeated calls from the ruling UCPN (Maoist) and the opposition CPN-UML to Congress leaders to come up with the party´s official candidate without further delay.
UCPN (Maoist) and CPN-UML leaders at the four-party negotiations on Tuesday had urged NC leaders to come up with their candidate.
The Congress party decision comes a day before the expiry of the extended deadline given by the president to political parties to find a common candidate to head a national unity government.
As demanded by leaders of the key political forces, President Ram Baran Yadav last Thursday extended the deadline for finding a common candidate by one more week. He agreed to allow more time as the leaders failed to even narrow down their differences during the weeklong timeframe given previously by the head of state.
PHOTO: BIJAY RAI
Paudel claimed that the party´s decision was a robust reply to the other political parties which were accusing Congress leaders of delaying the process by failing to come up with a candidate. "Our unanimous decision is an answer to those who accuse the NC of quarrelling over the PM candidacy," said Paudel.
A statement issued after the meeting said that the party has staked its claim for the post with a commitment to hold free and fair elections for the constituent assembly-cum-parliament in the coming mid-April to mid-May period.
Central committee members, other leaders and party members gathered at the Congress party head office on Wednesday were in a joyous mood not only in the hope of party President Koirala being elected to the country´s top executive post but also, and mainly, because this time the NC had stood united while proposing the PM candidacy.
This time the party had found it easier to pick a candidate as a strong contender Deuba stepped aside from the race and another aspirant, Paudel, also agreed to support Koirala.
Lately, the contenders softened their position on supporting Koirala whereas in the past both the central committee and the parliamentary party used to be divided on whether to propose Deuba or Paudel.
Sushil Koirala, who is unmarried and has not even served as a government minister so far, is a Congress leader with a clean image in moral as well as financial matters.