Koirala faction ups ante against DeubaRejects alliance with any party in the upcoming elections.
The longstanding factional feud in the Nepali Congress has rebounded immediately after the 14th general convention of the party. This time, Shekhar Koirala who had contested for party presidency and lost to Sher Bahadur Deuba in the recently concluded general convention, is leading the anti-Deuba camp in the party.
Earlier, the camp against Deuba used to be led by Ram Chandra Poudel but this time Koirala is leading the rival camp against Deuba in the party.
For the first time after the completion of the general convention, Koirala called a meeting of his camp on Wednesday, invited senior party leaders in the meeting to chart out the future strategy of the camp as well as how to challenge and check Deuba who has over 80 percent majority in party office bearers and central working committee.
At the meeting, besides Koirala, senior leaders from the Koirala camp namely Vice-president Dhanraj Gurung, General Secretary Gagan Kumar Thapa, Joint General Secretaries Badri Pandey and Jeevan Pariyar, and some other senior leaders like Arjun Narsingh KC, Minendra Rijal, Chandra Bhandari, Bal Bahadur KC and Dipak Giri were present.
Speaking at the meeting, most leaders said the way Deuba is trying to run the party does not look good so a strategy is needed to stop Deuba from taking wrong decisions, according to the Congress leaders.
At the meeting, Koirala questioned the basis on which Deuba nominated the central committee members and criteria for the nominations.
Exercising the authority given by the party statute, Deuba had on Saturday and Sunday nominated 13 party leaders, most of whom had lost the contest for office bearer positions. Ram Chandra Poudel, Prakash Man Singh, Bimalendra Nidhi, Bijay Kumar Gachhadar, Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Prakash Sharan Mahat, Narayan Khadka, Uma Regmi, Sujata Koirala and Min Bishwakarma were nominated to the central committee on Saturday. He picked Jeevan Shahi, Kalyan Gurung and Pradeep Poudel on Sunday.
“No doubt those nominated are capable and qualified but we want to know on what basis and criteria he nominated them?” Koirala said at the gathering.
“There should be a fair distribution of opportunities but if that is not happening, why should anyone remain in the party? The party will meet with an accident if the party president picks office bearers as per his likes and dislikes. We should be united to make an effort to take decisions as per the party statute and system,” said Koirala.
There is also anger and dismay inside the camp after Koirala’s position was pushed to 20th position in the party hierarchy. Earlier there was a tradition of awarding senior leader position to the candidate losing the presidential race, but breaking with the tradition, Deuba shunted Koirala to 20th position in the party hierarchy.
General Secretary Thapa said they had reminded Deuba of the party tradition but the latter rejected the suggestions.
Thapa explained the general convention election results as a moral victory for Koirala and his team.
“We had tried our best to find a common candidate for president until the last hour by taking senior leader Poudel into confidence, but we failed. Some senior leaders did not heed our call to stand united against Deuba. Now we are not looking for any share in the party but definitely we are looking for justice,” said Thapa.
KC said that Deuba has disturbed the environment of unity inside the party.
“We are ready to extend support to the party president but he should follow and respect the statute and system. Hence we will begin an ideological struggle inside the party. Though we lost the elections we are not tired and will continue our struggle,” said KC.
Ahead of the meeting, Koirala had issued a four-point position paper after Deuba shunted him to 20th position in the party hierarchy and nominated the 13 central working committee members with an intention to sideline the Koirala camp.
The Koirala camp has also decided to oppose any kind of electoral alliance with any political parties during the upcoming federal, provincial and local elections.
“The Nepali Congress will contest the elections on its own strength and reject any kind of electoral alliance with other political parties,” Koirala said.
Currently Deuba is leading an alliance of five political parties and he is under pressure to continue the alliance beyond the elections.
“The electoral alliance of the ruling parties will break down after the elections of the National Assembly scheduled for January 26,” Thapa claimed, adding, “Our party will contest the elections single-handedly.”
Although the dissidents have started upping the ante against Deuba, his camp appears confident.
“Koirala is just trying to keep his team intact and accumulate power,” Shyam Ghimire, a leader close to Deuba, said. “He is not a serious threat.”
He also attempted to justify Deuba’s recent nominations claiming the party president was just exercising the authority granted by the party statute. “It was the right and prerogative of the party president to appoint his loyalists so that he can enjoy a comfortable majority in the party central committee. The rest of the nominations will also be made in a similar fashion,” said Ghimire.