Picking deputy a tough call for NC President DeubaAs per the party statute, all the nominations were supposed to be made within two months of the general convention that concluded on March 7
Even more than three months after becoming the Nepali Congress president, Sher Bahadur Deuba is yet to nominate his deputy, and pressure has been growing on him to choose someone on whom he would face least of backlash.
Among several aspirants, three names—Bimalendra Nidhi, Gopal Man Shrestha and Khum Bahadur Khadka—have prominently figured during party’s internal talks, leaders say.
“Even though Deuba is likely to nominate other central committee members and give our parliamentary working committee full shape first, we believe Deuba will pick party vice-president from among these three leaders,” a party central committee member told the Post seeking anonymity.
Nidhi, son of eminent leader late Mahendra Nidhi, is a long-time associate of Deuba.
Considered among the party president’s strongest pillars, Nidhi is said to have a strong base in the Tarai region. He had contested for the post of general secretary from Deuba’s camp during the party’s 12th general convention in 2010.
Shrestha, on the other hand, is one of the senior most leaders in the party.
Shrestha, who hails from Syangja, was first elected to Parliament in 1991 after the restoration of democracy.
He was the vice-president the Deuba-led Nepali Congress Democratic before its merger with the mother party in 2007.
Shrestha represents the Janajati community.
Similarly, Khadka has always been considered an influential leader in the party.
Khadka, who is leading a campaign to restore Nepal as a Hindu country, was elected to the central committee with the second highest number of votes during the party’s 13th general convention held in March.
He served one-and-a-half-year jail term after being convicted of corruption in 2012 by the Supreme Court.
According to the central committee member, Deuba is working on a strategy to give crucial responsibilities to all three leaders.
“He is trying to make sure that all voices are addressed,” he said.
Under such circumstances, Nidhi is likely to be nominated vice-president, Shrestha could get the responsibility of deputy parliamentary party leader and Khadka’s faction would get to pick the either the general secretary or joint general secretary.
“Khadka could also be inducted into the party’s parliamentary board,” he added.
The parliamentary board is primarily responsible for handing out election tickets.
Along with nominating his vice-president, Deuba will also have to pick a general secretary, joint general secretary and spokesperson of the party as office bearers.
As per the party statute, all nominations were supposed to be made within two months of the general convention that concluded on March 7.
Leaders say Khadka’s insistence on not settling on anything less than vice-presidency has prevented Deuba from making nominations for office bearers.
“Khadka openly lobbied for Deuba during the second round of election for the party presidency. So, we expect Deuba to give him his due credit,” said Shankar Bhandari, another central committee member.
However, leaders close to Deuba have advised him not to nominate Khadka as the party vice-president because of his tainted image. “Giving a plum party post to such a controversial figure will send out a wrong message,” a party source said.
The vice-president of the party is seen as the natural successor to the president. Erstwhile party president Sushil Koirala was also the deputy during Girija Koirala’s tenure.
Similarly, Ram Chandra Paudel was also the vice president of NC when he contested for the party presidency against Deuba in March.