Deuba reluctant to organise protests against House dissolutionSome Congress leaders suspect a tacit understanding between Deuba and Oli could be the reason.
In the recently concluded Central Working Committee meeting of the Nepali Congress, factions of the main opposition in the dissolved House of Representatives saw a debate over the party’s strategy over Prime Minister KP Sharma’s move to hold the polls in April-May.
But with President Sher Bahadur Deuba adamant that the party wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict on the issue after organising three small-scale protests, analysts say the country’s oldest political force has become hostage to indecision.
“One faction of the party is looking up to the Oli faction [of Nepal Communist Party] and the other to the Dahal faction at a time when it should have declared an agitation encouraging others to rally behind it,” said political analyst Shreekrishna Aniruddh Gautam.
During the meeting, senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel, former general secretaries Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Prakashman Singh and leaders Gagan Thapa and Pradip Poudel demanded that the party press for restoration of the House and take to the streets until Oli’s “unconstitutional and undemocratic” move is corrected. Singh had demanded that the party organise mass rallies in all seven provinces while Sitaula tried to convince Deuba to make the restoration of the House the party’s single-point agenda.
“But the meeting could not decide to get back to agitation to restore the House,” Poudel told the Post.
Deuba has remained unfazed even with growing calls to organise protests against the “unconstitutional” move to dissolve the House. On Friday, speaking at a programme in Nuwakot, he said the country will head to the polls if the House is not restored.
A section of Nepali Congress leaders believe that it is impossible to conduct elections in April and May as declared by the government. “Then, what course politics, the constitution, and democracy will take is uncertain. So the restoration of the House is the only means to correct the mistakes made by Oli,” an NC leader told the Post.
The party has so far organised only small-scale demonstrations against Oli’s move. After failing to convince Deuba to organise protests, Paudel went on a tour of eastern districts on Friday. “Paudel is fed up with Deuba,” said a leader close to Paudel. “He [Paudel] repeatedly demanded that the party organise protests to press the government to rectify its moves, but Deuba doesn’t listen to him. Now we are clear that our party won’t do anything until the Supreme Court delivers its verdict.”
Some Congress leaders suspect that there could be a tacit understanding between Deuba and Oli and for that reason Deuba isn’t keen to lead protests or join the agitation organised by the Dahal-Nepal faction of Nepal Communist Party or Janata Samajbadi Party or even civil society members. “Had the Nepali Congress led the movement, it would have been easy for everyone to join the protest, but we missed that opportunity,” another Congress leader said.
“Though the Dahal faction is on the streets holding mass gatherings, it will not get recognition from the international community as it is not a political party. So for the ongoing agitation to get international recognition, the Nepali Congress should come to the streets,” said Gautam, the politician analyst. “But, unfortunately, it has missed the opportunity.”
Leaders close to Deuba have a different view. “The Nepali Congress is a responsible party and it can’t act like a faction of the NCP,” Chandra Bhandari, a central member considered close to Deuba said. “Since the Nepali Congress played a bigger role while promulgating the constitution, it is also bound to protect it. But the constitution says it is the job of the Supreme Court to interpret constitutional provisions. So we need to wait for the court’s verdict,” said Bhandari.
But leaders from the rival faction aren’t taking no for an answer. “The House must be restored so that the constitutional and democratic processes are back on track,” said Nabindra Raj Joshi, a Central Working Committee member. “On the one hand we call Oli’s move unconstitutional and undemocratic, and on the other hand, we do not want to press him to correct it. This shows that we are ambivalent about it.”