Deuba faction proposes 14th general convention by the third week of February 2021An unconvinced Poudel camp takes issue with one-year term extension of elected bodies and the possibility of appointing loyalists by the establishment.
The establishment faction of the Nepali Congress led by President Sher Bahadur Deuba has proposed the party’s 14th General Convention before the third week of February 2021.
The move comes amid growing protest by the rival factions in the Congress that had even boycotted the Central Working Committee meeting after Deuba could not bring a work plan to hold the general convention.
As polarisation deepened and factional feuds grew, Deuba on Monday sent his two aides to hold talks with Ram Chandra Poudel, one of the rival faction leaders with significant clout in the party. Earlier on Saturday, Deuba had reached Poudel’s residence and held a meeting.
The rival factions led by Poudel and Krishna Prasad Sitaula have been demanding that the party president come up with a clear plan for the 14th general convention, halt the formation of 41 various departments and resolve the long-standing dispute in the party’s sister organisations—Nepal Tarun Dal and Nepal Student Union.
Deuba’s trusted aides Bimalendra Nidhi, party vice president, and Hridayaram Thani, a central member, on Monday held talks at the house of Prakashman Singh, a key leader from the Poudel faction, in order to resolve the dispute.
“We have offered to extend the current terms and mandates of all elected bodies of the party by one year from the fourth week of February 2020 and proposed the 14the general convention before the third week of February 2021,” said Nidhi. “They are positive about it.”
The Congress leadership, by and large, is in agreement to extend the term and mandate of all elected bodies by one year as per the party charter, though a decision to this effect is yet to be made.
The current terms and mandates of all elected bodies of the party are going to expire on the first week of March 2020.
The Poudel camp, however, is not fully convinced with the proposal to hold the general convention after extending the terms of the elected bodies. It has also expressed concerns about the establishment faction exercising more control.
According to the leaders of the Poudel camp, the term extension of all elected bodies including the Central Working Committee should be in line with the required and agreed timeframe, not only for a year.
“If the general convention will be held within eight months, why do we need the term extension for one year,” said Minendra Rijal. “Let’s fix the timeline for holding the general convention first and extend the term accordingly. Second, no one should take undue advantage by forming new bodies that could affect the general convention’s results.”
The appointment in various departments and sister organisations are an attempt to influence the general convention and these appointments should not be one-sided, according to Rijal. “Our only concern is that the establishment faction should not take undue advantage by appointing their loyalists ahead of the general convention,” Rijal told the Post.
On Monday, during a Central Working Committee meeting that was boycotted by the Poudel faction, Deuba also proposed holding the general convention within the extended timeline and offered to begin the general convention process from mid-August 2021.
Nidhi, the party vice president, and senior leaders Sitaula and Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar among others were present in the meeting at Singh’ house at Thamel.
Sitaula, who was present in a meeting with Deuba on Monday at the party headquarters, said that some positive developments are taking place and that there is no alternative to remaining together to face the growing threat from the ruling party.
“We are sitting informally again on Tuesday and a meeting of the Central Working Committee has been called for Wednesday. To cope with the growing threat from the communists, we must keep the Nepali Congress united,” Sitauala told the Post. “The party president has forwarded a proposal and we are discussing it. We have agreed on some points and we are yet to agree on others.”
According to Sitaula, all the leaders are unanimous that consensus is key.
During various formal and informal talks, Poudel faction had agreed to give the go-ahead to Deuba to form 41 departments, if the latter brought a clear-cut roadmap for holding the next general convention.
“We had already agreed and decided during a central committee meeting on July 23 that after completing the formation of all interim structures of the party, a work plan to hold the 14th general convention will be tabled,” said Nidhi. “We still have not completed the formation of the interim structures, but this process is likely to complete by the end of this year. So these are non-issues and Deuba is committed to holding the general convention.”
Two other issues related to the formation of the interim central working committees of Nepal Tarun Dal and Nepal Student Union is yet to be agreed upon by the two factions.
The party’s two sister organisations are also deeply polarised where student and youth leaders are divided along the factional lines.
They are also yet to hold their general conventions.