Shirish B Pradhan
Kathmandu, Feb 2 (PTI) A key party of Indian-origin peoplefrom Nepal''s southern Terai plains today fielded its candidatefor the post of Premier at the last minute, a move that willturn tomorrow''s 17th round of polls into a four-corner contestalso involving Maoist chief Prachanda and candidates from NCand CPN-UML.
Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhedar of theMadhesi People''s Rights Forum - Democratic (MPRF-D) filed hisnomination papers in a surprise move shortly before the 4 pmdeadline for the purpose expired. Gachhedar has support fromtwo other Madhesi parties.From the single largest party UCPN-Maoist, its ChairmanPrachanda filed his nomination papers, while Nepali Congress(NC) again fielded Ram Chandra Poudyal for the top post.
CPN-UML of caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepalput up its President Jhala Nath Khanal for tomorrow''selections, seven months after Premier Nepal resigned underintense Maoist pressure.
President Ram Baran Yadav had last week directedParliament to begin a fresh process for the election of PrimeMinister on the basis of majority vote as political partieshad failed to hammer out a deal to form a consensusgovernment.
Prachanda, Poudyal and Khanal had earlier also contestedthe elections, while Gachhedar has joined the fray for thefirst time.
To get elected for the post, a candidate requires atleast 300 votes in the 601-member Constituent Assembly.
Another two rounds of elections, if required, will beheld on February 5 and 6 respectively.
President Yadav''s second deadline to form a nationalconsensus government had expired on January 26, following 16rounds of polls for the Premier''s post which did not produce awinner.
Maoists, who gave up insurgency and joined mainstreampolitics in 2006, have 238 seats in Parliament while NC has113 and CPN-UML 108.
The combined strength of the Madhesi parties is 83. PTISBP KIM AKJ