Amid election heat, policy debate put on back burnerAs the race for key positions hots up in the Nepali Congress, which began its 13th General Convention (GC) on Thursday in the Capital, intra-party debate over the larger ideological positioning and the long-term political direction has been put on back burner.
As the race for key positions hots up in the Nepali Congress, which began its 13th General Convention (GC) on Thursday in the Capital, intra-party debate over the larger ideological positioning and the long-term political direction has been put on back burner.
On Friday, on the second day of the GC, Central Working Committee member Mahesh Acharya presented the draft of the party’s policy and programme, but very little substantive discussions took place in the closed-door session at Bhrikutimandap. The document was prepared by Acting President Ram Chandra Poudel-led committee. The session, where all the GC members were supposed to be present, started at 3pm and was over within two hours.
No intensive discussion is expected on Saturday as there is a long list of agendas. Party policy and programme and reports of general secretary and treasurer also need to be endorsed by Saturday, as voting to elect party’s office bearers begins early Sunday.
According to Minendra Rijal, chief of NC’s Publicity Department, the GC will make a committee to give final shape to party’s policy and programme. “All party documents will be endorsed on Saturday,” said Rijal.
According to leaders, it is not possible to solicit opinions of GC representatives on the proposed draft of policy and programme due to time constraints. Even the representatives are not enthusiastic about making contributions with their views, as they are busy in publicity of the factions they owe allegiance to.
Earlier, the party had sought suggestions from its district committees on the political panel, but district committees did not provide any suggestions, in an indication that they did not have much “interest” in it.
The draft of policy and programme states that implementation of the new constitution is a major challenge of the party and that the NC should take the lead for the same.
“There are many complex components in the new constitution. Without NC’s leadership, [it seems] it is not possible to implement the charter,” the document reads.
The draft, however, had drawn widespread criticism in the Congress Central Working Committee “for failing to give a direction to the party”. But it was endorsed without any changes only a few days before the GC began, citing “lack of time”. Interestingly, the NC had earlier postponed its convention twice.
Regarding Madhes issues, the document states that the party is ready for amendment to the constitution again to address the demands of Madhes, including demarcation of federal boundaries. The party states that the first amendment to constitution has addressed some of the demands of Madhes.
Though the NC is first party to hold its convention after country adopted the federal structure, there will not be substantial change in the party structure.
Two CWC members will be elected from seven provinces but there will not be any major changes. The party is also unclear about party structures in the federal provinces. Hence, no leadership position has been filled at the provincial level.
“We did not have sufficient time to hold discussions on transforming party structures in the changed context due to the death of party president Sushil Koirala,” said Rijal, adding that the Mahasamti meeting that will take place after the convention will take decisions on remaining issues.
NC leaders said as issues related to demarcation are yet to be settled, there is no hurry for the party to finalise party’s structure in line with the federal set-up. The establishment faction’s bid to increase the number of office bearer was vetoed by the Sher Bahaudr Deuba faction.
The party rank and file is currently completely focused on election campaigns.
Usually, the GC prepares party’s policy and programme for the next four years. The party can call a Mahasamiti meeting if it needs to decide on any policy related issue.