Grand lost partyThe Mahasamiti shouldn’t turn into a missed opportunity to regroup
The Nepali Congress (NC) seems to have pulled out all the stops for its Mahasamiti meeting which started last week—the streets of the Capital were adorned with party flags and banners bearing portraits of the founders to welcome the guests.
The Mahasamiti is the NC’s highest policy-making body, and the main opposition party in Parliament is holding deliberations on five important documents. Key party members presented a political report, organisational report, statute amendment report, economic policy, and internal economic report at the grand conference. As expected, disgruntled members expressed dissatisfaction at NC leaders for running the party in a disorganised way and promoting factionalism.
The NC has a long history of being at the forefront of successive struggles against oppressive regimes. Its positioning as a ‘mass-based, liberal-democratic organisation’ earned it national and international reputation as a progressive party. Yet, being at the helm of affairs time and again, the NC messed things up each time it formed the government. The ‘grand old party’, that was the largest party until five years ago, suffered an electoral drubbing last year at the federal, provincial, and local elections which finally institutionalised federalism in the country.
Post-election soul-searching led party members to attribute the defeat to deep-rooted factionalism and a leadership crisis within the party. And rightly so. The main opposition party is now almost non-existent on the political scene. Party President Sher Bahadur Deuba remains mum on many pressing issues that challenge the country. The NC has failed to put forward important agendas and shake the ruling party out of its complicity. What’s more, it is also quite conveniently forgoing its chance to have an impact on the national political scene as a responsible opposition.
The NC was at the forefront of setting political narratives. Be it when convincing the then Maoist to come to dialogue and mainstreaming them into politics, or promulgating the constitution. But now the party seemed to have derailed. Neither does it have the same zeal, nor is any clarity regarding the ideologies the different factions in the party want to pursue. The Mahasamiti is an important opportunity for the NC to reflect on its past mistakes, rectify them and devise plans and strategies to put everything behind and look forward. But it looks like the party is still lost—in its agenda, efforts to get rid of intra-party disputes and competition, and the will to embark on a new beginning. The four-day jamboree provided ample opportunities for photo ops, but one could question whether or not its main purpose would be met.
It would be imprudent if the NC leaders used the Mahasamiti meeting only to lay foundation for the upcoming 14th General meeting wherein they advance their personal interests. In recent times, the public seems disenchanted with the ruling party owing to the decisions it has been taking. But the NC needs to take stock of the fact that just because the incumbent government is getting weak, doesn’t mean that the opposition will, by default, become strong. This is a key point the opposition should not miss. The NC, at this point, has no option but to come together as a united party if it is serious about reclaiming its past glory.