Thaw in Congress party allows for February 19-22 as dates for its general conventionDespite a punch up among its student leaders in the afternoon, the Nepali Congress appears to have temporarily put its factionalism aside.
Despite factionalism in the party leading to a fistfight between student leaders on Monday, a semblance of calm appears to have returned to the Nepali Congress.
The primary opposition Nepali Congress has long been battling internal feuds, with top leaders quarrelling over the date for the party’s general convention. These simmering resentments had trickled down to the party rank-and-file, leading to Monday afternoon’s fight over the formation of various party departments.
But later in the evening, a meeting of the party’s Central Working Committee unanimously agreed to hold the 14th General Convention on February 19-22, 2021, in Kathmandu.
The date was proposed by party President Sher Bahadur Deuba on December 28, after suspending five articles of the party charter. A rival faction led by senior leader Ramchandra Poudel had objected to the decision, saying it was taken in his absence.
Arjun Narsingh KC, a central member, told the Post that the party leadership has now agreed to the date that Deuba proposed, on the condition that party conventions at the province and ward levels are rescheduled.
As per the new schedule, according to KC, the ward-level conventions will be held by November 1, village and municipality level by November 3 and provincial level conventions will be completed by November 6.
On Monday evening, the Nepali Congress said in a statement that the party would complete the formation of all its interim structures by mid-February next year. Starting from mid-February, the distribution of active membership will begin and continue for two months.
The party leadership has also agreed to hold conventions in all seven provinces by mid-December so as to pave the way for the 14th General Convention on February 19-22, according to the statement.
The Congress leadership also needs to settle issues of its sister unions, like the Nepal Student Union and Tarun Dal.
The Nepal Student Union has been without its chief for the last year, after Nain Singh Mahar completed his tenure. The union’s general convention has also not been held yet.
The Nepali Congress has been facing criticism from within and outside the party for failing to settle internal disputes and play the role of an effective opposition, thereby emboldening the Nepal Communist Party government.
Congress leaders said that the realisation has now dawned upon the leadership that unless the party resolves its internal disputes, it won’t be able to put a check on the government.
The leadership has come to terms with the fact that there is no future for the party unless it strengthens its internal democracy, KC said.
Ever since the Congress lost the 2017 elections, factionalism has grown, with party President Deuba trying to impose decisions unilaterally, say party leaders. Earlier, there were clear factions in the party, led by Deuba, Poudel and Krishna Prasad Sitaula. But after Deuba’s unilateral decision of announcing the date for the general convention, Sitaula, Shekhar Koirala, Shashank Koirala and Prakash Man Singh had all thrown their weight behind Poudel.
According to a Congress leader, a tentative decision on burying the hatchet was reached at Friday’s meeting.
After several rounds of talks between Deuba and Poudel on Thursday failed to yield any results, the Poudel faction said that they would hold “decisive talks” with Deuba on Friday.
According to KC, the party is trying to resolve outstanding issues at all levels.
“We hope to find common ground and resolve all the differences,” he said.