What made Koirala run for his chairNepali Congress President Sushil Koirala’s bid for re-election as the prime minister has baffled many in his own party.
Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala’s bid for re-election as the prime minister has baffled many in his own party. Until Friday evening, the NC was undecided whom to field as its PM candidate but Koirala’s last-minute decision sent a political shockwave within the Congress and beyond.
Koirala’s abrupt decision has taken many by surprise and left them wondering. On Friday evening, Koirala had told senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel to decide whether the party should field its own candidate. Koirala also told the duo that he was not interested to fight for both the PM and the President. Deuba and Poudel had expressed their desire to contest the PM election. However, a meeting of the office bearers on Saturday decided that Koirala would join the PM race. Several NC leaders claim that a midnight meeting in Baluwatar between the PM and some Madhes-based leaders made Koirala change his mind. Koirala reportedly asked the Madhes-based parties’ support, assuring them of endorsing bills on constitution amendment from Parliament to address their grievances, and offering them lucrative positions in the Cabinet and other crucial positions such as the President, Vice President and Speaker.
One of Koirala’s advisers said his name was finalised with a reading that the nation needed a democratic leadership to resolve the border stand-off and to mend ties with India. “In this situation, the nation needs a democratic leadership that can take everyone on board,” said an aide. “With this conclusion, Koirala decided to file his nomination. The suggestions were from both within and outside the country.”
Some NC leaders claimed that President Ram Baran Yadav was also active in endorsing Koirala’s name from the party. “The President reportedly assured Koirala that the Madhesi parties would support him and he should contest to implement the constitution and to break the deadlock with the Tarai parties and India,” said an NC leader.
According to leaders close to Koirala, he has got assurances that the Madhes-based parties will cast their 57 votes in his favour. “There are also high chances of Rastriya Prajatantra Party supporting Koirala. We are also exploring the possibility of getting Maoist lawmakers to cross the floor,” said Koirala supporters.
Though senior leader Deuba proposed and Vice President Poudel seconded Koirala’s candidacy, the move has not gone well within the party.
Several NC leaders have expressed serious reservations over the decision. “This is a historic blunder made by Koirala,” said NC lawmaker Chandra Bhandari, adding that it was not his own decision. “This will have serious repercussions in the party,” he added.
“Whatever the decision, it is wrong,” said another NC lawmaker Ramhari Khatiwada. Lawmakers Gagan Thapa, Rajib Bikram Shah and Badri Poudel also publicly criticised Koirala’s decision.
A small group of leaders involving Padma Narayan Chaudary and Ananda Dhungana are trying to garner support for Koirala after many senior leaders declined to hold talks with other parties.
Joint Gen Secy Khadka resigns
KATHMANDU: Expressing dissatisfaction at Sushil Koirala’s PM bid, Nepali Congress Joint General Secretary Purna Bahadur Khadka resigned from his post on Saturday.
“I object to Koirala’s candidacy,” Khadka said. “After the row, it doesn’t suit me to hold onto the position.” He added that he had informed Koirala about his resignation.
Khadka had been urging the party to honour the “gentlemen’s agreement” to appoint CPN-UML chief KP Oli as the PM. Criticising Koirala, he had raised questions about the move at an officer bearer’s meeting on Saturday.
“We are making a blunder,” Khadka alerted Koirala, requesting him not to file his nomination. “Koirala’s decision is against consensus politics, the country and the people,” Khadka said. General Secre-taries Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Prakash Man Singh, and Khadka were in favour of Oli as the PM. Khadka, along with Sitaula, was the fulcrum of negotiations with the UML chief. For them, Koirala’s candidacy was serious betrayal to the process that made the constitution.