Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala resigned from his post on Saturday only to file candidacy for election to the same post to be held on Sunday.
Koirala, who also heads Nepali Congress, will be contesting against Khadga Prasad Oli, chairman of ruling coalition partner Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist).
Koirala filed his candidacy as per his party’s decision, soon after tendering resignation to President Ram Baran Yadav. Party leaders Sher Bahadur Deuba proposed his name while Ram Chandra Poudel seconded it.
“I have filed my nomination as per party’s decision and to uphold norms, values and ideals of democracy. There is nothing unusual about it,” Koirala told media persons after filing his papers.
He said there was no possibility of him withdrawing his nomination before Sunday’s election while adding he will support Oli if the latter wins and expects the same from him.
Despite choosing to contest, Koirala doesn’t have the required numbers.
A candidate needs 299 votes from the 597-member House to get elected and Nepali Congress has only 207 members. No other party has announced its support to Koirala.
On the other hand, Oli, whose candidature was supported by Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and seconded by Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal chairman Kamal Thapa.
CPN (UML) has 183 members in the House and together with the support of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), RPP-N and 12 other small parties Oli has support of 316 members---17 more than the figure required to win.
“I have filed my candidacy for the post at a critical juncture for the country post the earthquake and the need to implement the new statute. I am sure Nepali Congress will also decide to support me,” said Oli.
There was an unofficial agreement between NC and CPN (UML), which came first and second in the 2013 polls, that once Koirala resigns after promulgation of the statute, Oli would assume that post.
But differences have cropped up between both in recent days after CPN (UML) refused to support Koirala’s move to amend the new constitution to address demands of protesting Madhesis.
Unhappy with the demarcation of new states in the new statute, parties from Madhes, the plains in southern Nepal bordering India, have been protesting for nearly two months seeking fresh delineation of federal boundaries.
Madhesi parties who had quit the constitution drafting process in the final stages haven’t taken any decision yet on whether they will take part in Sunday’s voting.