Premier-elect Sushil Koirala calls for unity

February 10, 2014 02:44 pm | Updated May 18, 2016 07:20 am IST - Kathmandu

Nepali Congress Party leader Sushil Koirala (center) was elected the Himalayan nation's prime minister. ~File photo.

Nepali Congress Party leader Sushil Koirala (center) was elected the Himalayan nation's prime minister. ~File photo.

Sushil Koirala, president of the Nepali Congress, was elected Prime Minister of Nepal on Monday after he secured more than two-thirds of the votes in the Legislature — Parliament.

Mr. Koirala (75), known and admired for his simple lifestyle, was the sole candidate. He secured 405 of the 553 votes cast, with 148 members voting against him. He is likely to be sworn in on Wednesday by President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav.

The swearing-in could not be held since the NC and the CPN-UML could not agree on the distribution of Cabinet berths. The UML has demanded 50 per cent of the portfolios, including deputy prime ministership and Home Ministry. An official at the President’s Office told The Hindu that since Tuesday is not considered auspicious by some politicians, Mr. Koirala is likely to take the oath of office on Wednesday. Soon after his election, Mr. Koirala sounded a unity theme. “I will move ahead by taking everyone together,” Mr. Koirala told reporters. He reiterated that the parties would deliver the Constitution within a year, an assertion he made inside Parliament as well, while seeking support for his candidacy.

During his vote-seeking address, the NC president announced a raft of priorities. One was election for the local bodies not held since 1997. He also said that he would come up with a common minimum programme and work towards reducing inflation.

Mr. Koirala said he would work towards strengthening relations with India and China and other neighbours. “I will work towards making our relations with our neighbours cordial.”

He repeated that the new Constituent Assembly (CA) would own and adopt the agreements reached in the last CA which could not deliver the Constitution.

Mr. Koirala’s path to the prime ministership was made easier after the NC and the CPN-UML emerged as the first and the second largest parties with a combined tally of 371 of the 575 members that were decided by the direct and proportional representation election.

The two parties reached a seven-point power-sharing deal on Sunday.

During the voting, the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic) led by Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar sprang a surprise by voting against Mr. Koirala. Previously, Mr. Gachchhadar had publicly expressed his support for an NC-led government. His party colleague, Ram Janam Chaudhari told, a news portal, that the MJF (Nepal) was miffed by the “dismissive attitude” of the NC and the UML.

The Nepali Congress president got votes from the CPN-UML, RPP and other small parties. The Unified CPN (Maoist), RPP (Nepal) and Madhes-based parties voted against him.

Parliament currently has an effective strength of 570 members. Soon after Mr. Koirala’s candidacy was proposed and seconded by NC’s Ram Chandra Paudel and CPN-UML’s Oli, RPP (Nepal) Chairman Kamal Thapa took strong exception to the seven-point deal between the NC and the UML that was signed on Sunday.

“The media has reported about the deal but none of the three members [Mr. Koirala, Mr. Paudel and Mr. Oli] have mentioned it,” Mr. Thapa said. He accused them of misleading Parliament.

“Who gave these parties the right to decide the term of the Prime Minister and the Speaker for a year when Parliament has been elected for four years,” Mr. Thapa asked.

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