Pressure mounts on Sher Bahadur Deuba as rival faction ups the anteRam Chandra Poudel group, which has backing of a host of senior leaders, wants to hold ‘decisive talks’ with party president today.
Pressure is mounting on Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba. With the party and its sister organisations fraught with internal wranglings, rival camps in the Congress are putting the heat on Deuba to settle the disputes—chief among them, deciding the date for the party’s 14th general convention.
After several rounds of talks between two rival groups, led by Deuba and senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel, on Thursday failed to yield any results on the issue of general convention, the Poudel faction held a separate meeting at the residence of party General Secretary Shashank Koirala.
“The meeting has decided to hold decisive talks with Deuba on Friday morning,” said senior leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula. “We hope to reach a compromise on holding the 14th general convention on the agreed date.”
A Central Working Committee meeting, which was boycotted by Poudel and Sitaula factions, had decided to hold the party’s general convention in the third week of February 2021.
The Poudel faction has been insisting that the party hold the 14th General Convention in December 2020 instead of the third week of February 2021.
Senior party leaders including Shashank Koirala, Sitaula, Shekhar Koirala, Prakash Man Singh have thrown their weight behind Poudel.
Deuba for long has been facing criticism for running the party unilaterally, ignoring the democratic principles.
In recent developments, Deuba’s closeness with the ruling Nepal Communist Party too has not gone down very well with party leaders.
Deuba is also under attack from party leaders for not fielding any candidate for Speaker, allowing the ruling party candidate Agni Sapkota to get elected unopposed.
Two Nepali Congress youth leaders, Gagan Thapa and Pradeep Poudel, have been vocal in criticising Deuba for not fielding any candidate. They doubt the Nepali Congress will file nomination Deputy Speaker.
“The party president is certainly under pressure. Removing the obstacles in the party and holding the general convention on time are his responsibility,” said Sitaula. “We have no problem whether the general convention is held on December 2020 or February 2021. We are just saying it must be trustworthy and credible.”
Party Vice-President Bimalendra Nidhi said that he is hopeful that internal disputes will be managed soon.
Both factions have formed a three-member task force of Nidhi, Sitaula and Singh to find an amicable solution to ongoing disputes.
“The Poudel faction is laying stress on addressing disputes of the Nepal Student Union and formation of an interim structure. It is not a wise move to shift the general convention from December 2020 to February 2021 because a lot of adjustments in local party structures have to be made,” said Nidhi. “We will try to find a solution without changing the proposed date of the general convention.”
On Wednesday, too, Deuba, Poudel and some other leaders held talks to find an amicable solution.
Apart from holding the general convention and seeking a win-win situation for both sides on forming a new interim structure of the Nepal Student Union, they are also struggling to deal with issues like formation of various party departments and an interim structure of Nepal Tarun Dal, the party’s youth wing.
Senior party leader Shekhar Koirala told the Post that party President Deuba is facing enormous pressure within and outside the party so there is no alternative to settling the disputes at the earliest.|
“My impression is that President Deuba is under intense pressure within the party and from the international community too,” said Koirala. “Being a democratic party, which is currently in the opposition, our party’s performance is being closely watched by the international community.”
According to Koirala, the international community impression about the Nepali Congress is that it is becoming weaker by the day and has lost its effectiveness as an opposition force.
“The onus is on Deuba to revive the party’s image,” he told the Post.