Nepali Congress likely to postpone its 14th general conventionWhile Covid-19 makes it difficult to host the event, leaders say disputes within the party compound the challenges.
The Nepali Congress party is set to postpone its 14th general convention, slated for February next year, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and lack of time to conduct elections in its lower units, according to party leaders.
The official announcement of the postponement of the convention, which was to elect the new party leadership, is to be made after the Central Working Committee takes up the issue later in this month.
“It is almost certain that the general convention will be deferred to beyond April/May,” said Pradip Poudel, a central working committee member. “But it’s too early to announce it as the party leadership doesn’t want to be blamed for taking the decision on its own.”
The tenure of the Central Working Committee has already been extended by a year (until March), as per the party charter. If the party fails to elect a committee and form all local structures by March it can defer the general convention by another six months as per the party’s statute.
“The way Covid cases are increasing, we might defer the scheduled general convention for some weeks or even months, but our target to host the convention has not changed yet,” Ram Chandra Poudel, a senior party leader, told the Post.
The party, which recently embraced the federal setup, is yet to form interim structures to comply with the new arrangements in eight districts, most of them in the Tarai. Similarly, the party decided to launch a drive to double the number of active members from the present 4,98479.
But to distribute and verify the new active members’ list within mid-August is impossible, said another senior party leader. “That’s why we aren’t going to meet the February deadline.”
With spikes in Covid cases around the country and the imposition of lockdowns in at least 20 districts, several district units of the party have failed or are bound to fail to meet the deadline.
Some leaders, meanwhile, are saying that President Sher Bahadur Deuba doesn’t want to conduct the general convention soon. Deuba is in an aggressive mood, and it seems like he is not interested in the general convention, said senior party leader Dr Shekhar Koirala.
“Deuba wants to continue the status quo and he keeps on violating the party’s norms. He might be thinking that Prime Minister Oli will split the party and we will join the new government,”said Koirala. “If that happens, he thinks he can go into the convention with an advantage over his rivals. But that is not possible.” he added.
Another senior party leader Krishna Prasad Situala has already proposed that the general convention be postponed until May/June next year.
“We still have time to assess the situation and decide on the dates for the convention,” said another leader.
But some leaders say that in addition to the Covid challenge, other unresolved issues between rival factions of the party are also affecting the timelines for the convention. The dispute between the Deuba and Poudel groups over the distribution of membership, remains a major bone of contention in the party, and until the party settles this dispute, dates for the general convention can’t be decided, said Ramhari Khatiwada,another Central Working Committee member.