Sunday 26th May 2024
Sunday 26th May 2024
गृहपृष्ठPoliticsConfusion in Nepali Congress: who will become the party’s president?

Confusion in Nepali Congress: who will become the party’s president?

Kathmandu: The main opposition party, Nepali Congress, has resumed its activities. After the decision was made to hold the general convention next March, the race for the party leadership has begun.

The number of active members in the party is yet to be decided. A meeting of officers held a few days ago has agreed to double the number of active members to one million. However, a conclusion has yet to be reached.

Factionalism, meetings, debates and discussions on public and social media platforms have emerged within the Congress without a decision on the active members and the election of the delegates to the General Convention. Due to uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, it is not possible to predict whether the convention will be held on time. Internal preparations by the leaders have begun, however.

The three main factions in the Congress consist of the factions of party President Sher Bahadur Deuba, Ram Chandra Poudel and Krishna Prasad Sitaula, which further contain sub-groups. Even within these three factions, there is no one aspirant for the Chairpersonship.

President Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress Party has expressed his desire to be re-elected. The campaign to appoint leaders close to him across the country in various departments is seen as a plan to re-elect the President. However, leaders of non-institutional groups have objected to the formation of such departments.

Along with Deuba, Vice President Bimalendra Nidhi has also expressed his desire for the post of Chairperson in the upcoming General Convention. In the last meeting held between Deuba and Nidhi, Nidhi demanded from the institutional group that he should be the candidate for the post.

As per the assurance received while supporting Deuba in the 13th General Convention, Nidhi has stated that he will be the Chairperson candidate in the 14th General Convention. Even so, Deuba has asked Nidhi to re-elect him as Chairperson and help him this time.

Having had a good grip on the Madhesh region within the establishment group, if Nidhi decides to not support Deuba, Deuba’s chances of re-election will weaken and Nidhi will face difficulties without Deuba’s support.

Will the competition within the establishment group benefit the non-establishment?

In the 13th general convention, the election was contested under the leadership of senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel. In that, however, Poudel lost to Deuba. The chances of Poudel being an all-round candidate in this group is low this time as well. The legacy of the Koirala family, which has supported Poudel, is preparing to contest for the chairpersonship themselves this time. Central Member Shekhar Koirala and General Secretary Shashank Koirala have announced that one of them will be the Chairperson candidate.

For months now, Shekhar Koirala has been on an all-country visit and Shashank is the General Secretary. As a result, they automatically appear to be aspiring for Chairpersonship. The legacy of the Koirala family is strong in the Congress. According to a Nepali Congress source, Poudel’s claim could be weakened if a strong aspirant from the Koirala family is seen. While Poudel enjoys a minority in the party, he cannot become the president without the support of the Koirala family. The candidate from the Koirala family would not be able to win the election without the support of Poudel.

From the third group, Krishna Prasad Sitaula can become the Chairperson candidate, although he is not in a great position to win. Nevertheless, he can play a decisive role in helping elect someone else as the Chairperson during the final round of elections. Gagan Thapa, a popular leader from the Sitaula group, has said he will run for the post after calculating the risks involved.

According to sources, Thapa will only be able to claim the position for General Secretary and not more at this time. The Sitaula faction is likely to support the Deuba or Poudel faction candidates on the condition that Thapa be made the General Secretary. Prakash Man Singh, son of founding Congress leader Ganesh Man Singh, has also announced his candidature for the post. However, he has not become the likely candidate of any faction either.

During the General Convention of the Nepali Congress, the leadership is selected on the strength of factions. The faction of the Nepali Congress has been reaching wards, villages, towns and constituencies up to the central government. The faction that receives the most elected representatives from the constituency will be the faction whose candidate is likely to win the election. However, nothing can be predicted yet of how this will all play out as the Congress has a habit of voting within the factions rather than by looking at the candidates.

Deuba’s image has been tarnished and criticized at the grassroots level due to allegations of weak party mobilization, defeat in the election and lack of a strong role in the opposition. As a result, most of the members of staff are not satisfied with Deuba. However, since the delegates of the General Convention prioritise the interests of the faction over people’s expectations, it seems that Deuba can become the Chairperson again if the factions and sub-factions are to reconcile.

If the Poudel-Koirala faction unites with the Deuba faction, there is a possibility of winning the position of Chairperson. The task of forming an all-encompassing candidate from the Congress by forming sub-factions within the factional group of the Congress seems complicated, to say the least.

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