Congress set to postpone general convention againSome leaders say convention by mid-December is not certain, even more so if the country goes to early polls.
Amid delays in holding its conventions in scores of districts and federal constituencies, the ruling Nepali Congress is set to delay its 14th general convention further.
Earlier the party had decided to hold the general convention on November 25-29 in Kathmandu. But due to disputes over the distribution of active membership, as many as 13 districts have yet to hold the local level conventions. Active members elect representatives to the general convention, which elects new officer bearers in the party. The party has completed district level conventions in 13 mountain districts while local level conventions have been completed in 51 districts. In total, 64 districts are still awaiting the dates for holding district as well as federal electoral constituency level conventions including those who have not conducted the local level conventions yet.
At a meeting attended by party office bearers and the Central Elections Committee meeting on Tuesday, party president and prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba instructed the elections committee to conclude the general convention by mid-December at any cost.
Party President Deuba has instructed the election committee to conclude the general convention by mid-December, senior party leader Ram Chandra Poudel said. “I have requested the party to convene a Central Working Committee meeting to discuss a new date for the general convention and other contemporary issues,” he said.
During Tuesday’s meeting, senior advocate Gopal Krishna Ghimire who is a member of the central elections committee, had given a briefing on the delayed local and district level conventions and informed that it is now impossible to hold the general convention on November 25-29 while asking the party to fix a new date.
“If the party agrees to postpone the general convention to mid-December, we will propose a new time table,” Ghimire said at the meeting.
Deuba had called the meeting on Tuesday to discuss how to conclude the general convention of the party on the scheduled date. The party has assigned the entire responsibility to conduct the general convention from the ward to central levels to the elections committee headed by former attorney general Mahadev Prasad Yadav.
Now, with the party now mulling over postoning the convention to mid-December, some leaders doubt that the party would be able to organise the general convention even by December.
“Prime minister and party president Deuba is under pressure to hold the general convention on time amid criticism in the party that he wants to delay the general convention. He is under pressure also because the main opposition CPN-UML is concluding its local level conventions within this week,” a senior Nepali Congress leader said, adding, “There are also rumours about early elections so there is an urgency to hold the local level election, by April.”
Party general secretary Purna Bahadur Khadka had already proposed deferring the general convention to December-end after several districts failed to conclude the local-level conventions on schedule. Now, the central elections committee has proposed holding the local level conventions in the 13 districts after the Tihar festival and district level conventions in all 64 districts on a single day so that the provincial conventions and the general convention can be conducted on schedule.
Party president Deuba wants to be re-elected again while around half a dozen leaders have already announced their candidacies for party presidency.
“We still believe we can hold the general convention by mid-December,,” party joint general secretary Prakash Sharan Mahat said.
“After completing the local level conventions in 13 districts, we will continue the district and federal constituency level conventions in the remaining 64 districts. In that scenario, we can easily hold the general convention by mid-December,” said Mahat.
Out of the 753 local units, the party has completed conventions in 550 and the results are mixed with no faction showing clear dominance. As per the election results of the 550 local units, both Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Poudel factions are neck and neck and now both camps are focusing on the next round of elections— elections of the representatives to the general convention who will be elected from all 77 districts and 165 electoral constituencies.
But some leaders from the party’s opposition factions suspect that Deuba, who is both prime minister and party president, is looking for excuses to delay the general convention because some districts have yet to hold the local level conventions.
Also, in the event of the country going to an early parliamentary election, which some Congress leaders are in favour of, the party’s general convention could be delayed as the party’s priority will be the general elections.
The party has to elect 4,500 representatives to the general convention from 165 electoral constituencies..
Nepali Congress spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma said it is very unlikely that the party can conclude the general convention by mid-December.
“We need to work out a new date. So the election committee is mulling over various dates. Possibly a central working committee meeting to be held after Deuba’s return on November 4 from the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow will fix a new date for the general convention,” Sharma said.
But senior leader Poudel, who represents the dissidents in the party, said the party needs to convene a central committee meeting at the earliest to discuss any change in the date of the general convention.
Bhimsen Das Pradhan, another leader of the party, said the party must hold the general convention on time to meet the constitutional obligation but if the country goes to early elections then the convention will have to be postponed.