Lingering deadlock over the election of new Speaker of House of Representatives has finally come to an end following the resignation of Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe from her post on Monday. The parliament will elect the new Speaker on January 26. The House has been without its head for the last four months after former Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara quit the post after a court convicted him on a rape allegation. Tumbahamphe had dug her heels and persistently refused to quit the post despite the instruction of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) that had elected her to that position. She insisted that she would not turn the legislative body headless until the ruling party announced a candidate of the Speaker. She kept her word and announced her resignation as the NCP unanimously picked Agni Sapkota as the candidate for the top legislative post. Given that the NCP commands a comfortable majority in the House, Sapkota is set to be new Speaker of the lower House.
It was bad for the legislative wing of state to be the hostage of factional bickering of the ruling party. More than a month has elapsed since the start of winter session of the House but it failed to elect its new head. Internal political dynamics of NCP came into full play, complicating the political process. The NCP was created with the unification of two big communist parties – former CPN-UML and former Maoist Centre. Politically and technically, the NCP has been unified but it seems the party is yet to be united emotionally and attain full organisational integration. Otherwise, the party’s stalwarts would not have been crossed swords over the selection of the new Speaker.
When Mahara had become the Speaker, representing the erstwhile Maoists, the two parties had not been unified formally. As per the constitution, Speaker and Deputy Speaker should come from different political parties as well as opposite genders. This constitutional provision requires that Speaker rise above the partisan interest and acted as a consensus figure to sort out the disputes that surface in the parliament. At the same time, the national charter has envisioned a gender balance in the upper leadership of House. A woman must be elected either to the post of Speaker or the Deputy Speaker.
Outgoing Deputy Speaker constantly stressed on gender inclusion and demanded that she be elected to the post of Speaker. Despite being a bona fide candidate for the post, she failed to be a common candidate within the party. This is because the party, composed of two different schoolings, has to maintain a balance and power-equation so that the spirit of unification from centre to the grassroots won’t hit a snag. But Tumbahamphe seems to be least concerned about the party’s internal scenario and blamed the patriarchal mind-set of the leadership for not being picked for the post of Speaker. Nonetheless, she must not forget that she has attained the present political mileage because of the very party. Understanding and patience is important in politics. Now she deserves praise for clearing the deck to pick the new Speaker and Deputy Speaker, thereby putting the national politics on normal course.