After a brief calm, conflict returns to the Nepali CongressThe rival faction has taken exception to some recent appointments by President Deuba, saying it’s against the party charter and code of conduct.
After a brief lull, another cycle of conflict brews in the Nepali Congress. This time it’s about party President Sher Bahadur Deuba’s decision to form various departments unilaterally.
The rival faction led by senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel has expressed reservations over appointments in several party departments and the Central Committee on the eve of the 14th General Convention.
After a poor show in elections in 2017, the Nepali Congress plunged into a deep internal rift. Only recently, the two rival factions’ agreement to organise the 14th General Convention from February 19-22 had created a positive environment in the party. But after the new dispute surfaced, another cycle of conflict has begun, said party leaders.
In the the latest row, the Poduel faction backed by a litany of of senior leaders such as Secretary General Shashank Koirala, and senior leaders Prakash Man Singh, Krishna Prasad Situala, Sita Devi Yadav, Ramsharan Mahat, Shekhar Koirala, Arjun Nar Singh KC and Minendra Rijal, stand against Deuba’s unilateral decisions. They have concluded that Deuba’s moves are directed at influencing the outcomes of the upcoming general convention.
“Why did the party president wait for the last four years and why is he on an appointment spree? He has filled around four dozen party departments on the eve of general convention,” said a leader who did not wish to be named.
“The decision to increase the numbers of party departments from 28 to 47 was taken as per the agreement between the two factions,” said Bishwo Prakash Sharma, the party spokesperson.
Before deciding on the appointment of heads of various departments, Deuba had called on Poudel to suggest names, but Poudel did not heed his call, according to a leader who has close relations with Deuba.
But the Deuba faction said that whatever decisions the party president took were in accordance with the party charter and powers vested in him by the charter. “There is no need to oppose the new appointments,” the leader said.
Deuba, on the other hand, gave responsibility to some leaders from the rival faction. This also irked the Poudel faction this time. Madhu Acharya of Kavre, considered an ally of senior leader Krishna Prasad Situala and Govinda Bhattarai of Tanahun, considered a Poudel loyalist, have been appointed to two departments.
Deuba, however, is not in the mood to backtrack. Of the 47 departments in the party, nominations are being made only to 20. There is still room for consideration, said the leader close to Deuba.
Meanwhile Deuba, who was speaking at a programme in Dhangadhi, said in Dhangadhi said he waited for years to build consensus within the party, but that never happened. “So I started appointing heads of department,” said Deuba. “I am working honestly towards strengthening the party and organising the general convention on time.”
A national meeting of vice-presidents of all 77 district units of the party convened by Vice-president Bimalendra Nidhi on Wednesday could not go ahead smoothly following a boycott by the Poudel faction.
Under the banner of the Policy and Study Academy of the party, Nidhi had called a meeting of district vice-presidents to train them to prepare for upcoming general convention.
“Things agreed inside the party should be implemented to ensure the convention takes place on time. But Deuba is only trying to strengthen his own group,” said Ram Sharan Mahat, a senior party leader. “Rather, he should follow the party charter, code of conduct and ethics.”
According to him, Deuba made the appointments against the party charter. The move also breaches the party’s code of conduct as dates for general convention has already been announced, he added.
“These appointments are purely aimed at influencing the general convention. This is not acceptable. There is no reason to make appointments just one year ahead of the general convention,” said Mahat.
Deuba on Saturday appointed 13 heads of departments and added seven more central working members on Monday from among leaders belonging to the Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar camp that entered into a merger with the party in October, 2017.
Similarly, Deuba also appointed two central working committee members, five invited central working committee members and constituted a 30- member committee named “senior council”.
The Poudel faction on Tuesday and Wednesday held separate meetings to challenge Deuba’s decision.
On Wednesday, the Poudel faction held a separate meeting and warned that its leaders will only take part in party-related activities that ensure the general convention takes place on time.
“The objective behind organising the training programme for all 77 district vice-presidents was to influence the outcome of the general convention. So we urged our friends to boycott it,” said senior party leader Prakash Man Singh.
“After a long debate and dispute, we have published a timeline to hold the general convention. So now our focus should be on holding the general convention on time,” added Singh.
Some leaders who haven’t taken sides are not happy with the latest development as they fear it will further polarise the party.
“This is not the time to fight; we have a bigger fight with the government led by a communist party,” said Ramhari Khatiwada, a youth leader.