With the major parties sticking to their guns, Nepal failed to elect its 34th Prime Minister on Wednesday as none of the three candidates managed to secure a simple majority.
Twists and turns marked a day of political maneuvering that finally resulted in dashed hopes for candidates Ram Chandra Poudel (Nepali Congress), Pushpa Kamal Dahal (UCPN-Maoist) and Jhalanath Khanal (CPN-UML).
Abstention by United Democratic Madhesi Front—the umbrella group of four Madhes-based parties that have 83 candidates in the 601-member Constituent Assembly also affected the outcome.
In two rounds of separate voting for each candidate, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal secured 242 votes in his favour and Poudel managed 124 votes. Maoists have 237 members while NC has 114 representatives.
The third candidate CPN-UML chief Jhalanath Khanal withdrew from the voting process as he failed to secure support of two-third members of the house.
Khanal had stated that he would not contest if he failed to garner support of 401 members. CPN-UML is the third largest party in CA with 109 members.
A candidate needs to garner 300 votes in his favour to win. Of the 599 members eligible to cast their votes, 592 voted in the first round for Dahal and 597 in the second round for Poudel.
The business advisory committee of the CA has decided to have another round of voting on Friday afternoon to elect the next prime minister.
“I am confident that in the second round of voting all those who abstained from voting today will vote for me and I will win,” said Poudel after the election process got over.
Earlier in the day, CPN-UML’s Khanal reached close to securing the PM post after Maoists and two other parties expressed their conditional support to him.
Khanal’s chances became slim after the Madhesi parties decided to abstain from voting. They stated that the decision was taken since none of the candidates gave any specific assurances on their demands.
“I had secured written assurances of support from 391 members but since our party had decided on forming a national consensus government based on support of two-third members, we decided to withdraw,” said Khanal.