Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala on Sunday cleared the first hurdle to becoming the country’s next Prime Minister.

Mr. Koirala won the election for the leadership of the parliamentary party, defeating senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba.

Mr. Koirala got the support of 105 of NC’s 194 Members of Parliament while Mr. Deuba, a three-time Prime Minister, secured 89 votes from the newly elected parliamentarians. The NC emerged as the single largest party with 196 seats in the elections to the Constituent Assembly held in November and many expect it to lead the new government.

Mr. Koirala had declared his intention to become the Prime Minister after the election and sought the support of Mr. Deuba and party vice-president Ram Chandra Paudel. However, both of them voiced ambition to become the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, President Ram Baran Yadav asked the parties to form a government by February 2 as per political consensus, a press statement from his office said.