Koirala clan on Poudel’s sideNepali Congress (NC) Central Working Committee (CWC) member Sujata Koirala, daughter of former party president and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, withdrew her candidacy for the party president in favour of Acting Party President Ram Chandra Poudel.
Nepali Congress (NC) Central Working Committee (CWC) member Sujata Koirala, daughter of former party president and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, withdrew her candidacy for the party president in favour of Acting Party President Ram Chandra Poudel.
With Sujata’s decision, members of Koirala clan have now stood united in support of Poudel’s candidacy. Despite repeated attempts, senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba failed to rope in members of Koirala family.
In an interview with the Post two weeks ago, CWC member Shekhar Koirala had said “Koiralas would stick together no matter who we support as party president.”
According to party insiders, the Koirala family is playing a very strategic move in this convention. After the sudden demise of party President Sushil Koirala, the Koirala clan is using this convention to bolster their position within the party to prepare for the next conclave.
“Koirala family wants to continue their domination in the party and they seem to have concluded it would be easier to do so if Poudel is the president,” said Puranjan Acharya, who has closely worked with the Koirala family since 1990. Half a dozen members of the family are competing for CWC positions.
Late Sushil Koirala was considering a re-run for the top post and to appoint Shashank Koirala as acting party president. After the death of Sushil Koirala, the establishment faction held a series of meetings at Shashank’s residence to prepare its strategy.
Poudel, a presidential candidate, reached Shashank’s residence to court support of the Koirala clan, widely considered to be the establishment camp.
Poudel, who had struggled for an organisational hold, has bolstered his presence after the 12th convention. He has won over a dozen district presidents of the establishment camp leading upto this covention. “Poudel has strong hold in western districts and districts surrounding Kathmandu Valley,” said Harihar Birahi, a senior journalist close to the NC.
But 60 percent of the district presidents elected from the establishment camp are divided into Poudel and Sitaula factions.
Another presidential candidate Deuba seems upbeat this time. Having roped in some of the key leaders from the establishment faction, he has strengthened his chances for a win. Leaders such as Arjun Narsingh KC, Laxman Ghimire, former speaker Taranath Ranabhat, Laxman Ghimire, Kul Bahadur Gurung and Shyam Ghimire, among others, joined the Deuba camp. Khum Bahadur Khadka, an influential NC leader in the post-1990 who was convicted on corruption charges, has supported Deuba. Khadka is now advocating for the revival of the Hindu state.
According to NC leaders, Khadka who provided protection to thousands of cadres as minister on multiple occasions still enjoys a sort of influence in the organisation.
Besides, Deuba maintains his own hold on the party organisations. He got 47 percent votes at 12th General Convention won by Sushil Koirala. After Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and Ganesh Man Singh, Deuba is the only leader who challenged the domination of Girija Prasad Koirala. He formed NC (Democratic). Even after parties united in 2008, Deuba continued to maintain 40 percent hold. Leaders in his camp claim to have increased their base in the Madhes. A Dadeldhura native, Deuba has always been strong in the Far West.
General Secretary Krishna Sitaula, who played a key role in the peace and statute drafting process, is banking on votes from the establishment camp. After Koirala’s demise, leaders say, there is a sizeable number of leaders and cadres who do not to support Poudel as party president.
Sitaula has a strong hold in his Jhapa, Kavre and other eastern districts. Having picked Gagan Thapa as general secretary, Sitaula is planning to cajole party’s young voters. But NC leaders doubt Sitaula would garner as much youth votes as Deuba.