It was an emotional moment for 202 members of the Nepali parliament on Friday afternoon as they gathered after four years in a house that the king was forced to reconvene after three weeks of pro-democracy protests.
Deputy speaker Chitra Lekha Yadav took the chair in place of Taranath Ranabhat who resigned on Wednesday and gave an impassioned speech assuring the Nepali people that the law makers would respect the people\'s mandate.
"The state structures need to be changed and there has to be a political transformation, and we are determined to see this through," Yadav told the house amidst loud table thumping.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala was too ill to appear for a scheduled swearing in at the royal palace on Friday morning, and Yadav read his proposal for a resolution on a constituent assembly election. Debate on the issue is scheduled when parliament reconvenes on Sunday.
Yadav reminded MPs of the urgent need to restore peace and democracy so the problems of Nepali society such as the rich-poor gap, the rural-urban divide and uneven access of health and education could be urgently addressed. She also said marginalized communities, women, dalits and janajatis needed to be brought into the mainstream of society through a new constitution.
The house session started two hours late as legislators ironed out the technicalities of presenting the constituent assembly proposal in such a way that it would satisfy protesters at the gates of Singha Darbar and the Maoists who were holding a parallel rally at Tundikhel.
Indian political leader Sitaram Yechury of the CPM made an appearance in the house and was publicly introduced to those present. Yechury is believed to be the architect of the 12-point pact between the parties and the Maoists as well as the current power-sharing agreement that forced the king to back down on Monday.