Establishment divided over prez candidateThe Koiralas stand for a unanimous presidential candidate who could end factionalism in the party
Less than two weeks before the 13th General Convention, the establishment faction of the Nepali Congress remains divided over choosing a consensus candidate for the party president.
From the camp, Acting President Ram Chandra Poudel, General Secretaries Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Prakash Man Singh and Sujata Koirala have expressed their intent to be the official candidate for the top party post.
Poudel has offered the post of Parliamentary Party leader to Sitaula and senior vice-chairmanship to Singh to secure their backing. But despite several rounds of talks within the establishment faction in an effort to zero in on one candidate, senior leaders have not given up their claims.
Both Sitaula and Singh claim that Poudel, due to his “poor” grip on the party organisation, cannot beat Sher Bahadur Deuba in the election.
However, Sitaula and Singh are both less experienced in party affairs than Poudel who has worked as the NC’s general secretary, vice-president and acting president. He was also the party’s prime ministerial candidate.
Singh, son of the late NC veteran Ganesh Man Singh, boasts of a strong support from party cadres across the country. He was elected the general secretary of the party during the 12th general convention in 2010.
Singh is likely to support Poudel if he gets the post of the PP leader, according to party insiders. In a recent meeting with supporters, Sitaula shared that he would get more votes than Poudel in the election. NC leaders who have met Sitaula recently say he believes that a three-way race would benefit him.
The Koiralas—who have led the party for most of its history, though not cohesive, are trying to come together to field a winning candidate. Key members Shekhar Koirala, Shashank Koirala and Sujata Koirala are in regular touch with senior leaders from the establishment as well as Deuba factions.
Deuba has offered the post of general secretary to a leader from the Koirala clan. All the leaders eyeing the presidential berth have offered the post of general secretary to a member of the Koirala family.
“Deuba, Poudel, Sitaula and Singh are approaching us to seek support. However, the Koirala family remains undivided,” said Shekhar, adding that they stand for a unanimous presidential candidate who could end factionalism in the party.