Congress’ Koirala camp ups the ante against DeubaLeaders from rival Shekhar Koirala camp accuse party president of excluding their nominees on PR list.
The infighting between the party establishment and rival faction in the ruling party Nepali Congress is getting fierce over distribution of tickets for federal and provincial elections. The rival camp led by senior party leader Dr Shekhar Koirala has upped the ante against Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who is also the party president.
After Deuba failed to accommodate the aspirants from Koirala camp under the proportional representation (PR) category, the rival faction has called a gathering for Saturday “to pile pressure for fair distribution of elections tickets” among the party factions.
The party submitted the list of candidates at the Election Commission on September 18 representing the party under the proportional representation category. But the ruling alliance is still struggling to fix a seat-sharing arrangement among the five parties for federal and provincial elections. Ruling parties Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Center), Janata Samajbadi Party, CPN (Ekikrit Samajbadi) and Rastriya Janamorcha Nepal have forged an electoral alliance.
We are miffed as Deuba submitted a list of candidates under the proportional representation in the Election Commission ignoring our repeated concerns, a leader of the Koirala camp said. “The way Deuba unilaterally submitted the names under the proportional representation category, it has caused serious suspicion that he might further corner our camp under the first-past-the-post elections as well in both federal and provincial polls,” he said.
The elections for the federal parliament and provincial assemblies are scheduled for November 20.
A central committee member Ajaya Babu Siwakoti argued that they had to convene a gathering “to warn” the party leadership as Deuba didn’t accommodate rival camp’s nominees in the closed list under the proportional representation (PR) category.
Though the closed list of PR candidates submitted at the Election Commission is not made public, the Koirala camp suspects that Deuba has sidelined the rival camp in the nominations. Koirala is supported by Vice President Dhan Raj Gurung, General Secretary Gagan Thapa, Deputy General Secretary Badri Pandey and Jeevan Pariyar among other senior leaders. But it is not clear whether senior leaders including Koirala, Gurung, Thapa, Pandey, and Pariyar, among others, will attend the Saturday meeting.
On Friday, some leaders held a separate gathering in Kathmandu and decided to call the gathering to pressure Deuba to select candidates under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) elections in a fair manner.
General Secretary Thapa has stopped attending the meetings called by party president Deuba as the party establishment tried to corner the Koriala camp in ticket distribution, said a leader. Thapa is also a member of the 11-member task force formed by the ruling alliance to fix a seat-sharing arrangement. The ruling alliance despite its repeated attempts for the last one and a half months has been failing to agree on the number of seats to be shared among the parties.
Thapa has not attended party meetings for the last couple of months because he is unhappy with the Deuba camp’s attempts to sideline the Koirala faction in the selection of PR candidates, said another leader.
Ahead of submitting the closed list of PR candidates to the Election Commission, the Koirala camp had handed its list of candidates to Deuba for inclusion on the list. But Deuba regularly ignored the dissidents pushing them to call a separate gathering, said yet another leader.
“We disagree with the PR list they have submitted unilaterally to the election commission. The list should be amended,” said Jagadish Narsingh KC. “This is our warning to the party president who is intent on sidelining his rivals in the party.” KC is active in organizing the gathering.
The Saturday gathering is being organised at a party place in Kathmandu where several leaders including central working committee members, district presidents, and former district presidents, among others, will be participating.
“Ticket distribution should be done in a fair manner and no one in the party should feel ignored or isolated. Unfortunately that is the case now. We will press the party leadership to ensure justice inside the party, otherwise Deuba should be ready to face the consequences,” said KC.
Koirala was defeated by Deuba in the 14th general convention of the party last year. Since then, the rival camp led by Koirala has been pressing Deuba not to discriminate against the leaders that aren’t close to the party’s establishment [Deuba camp].
The gathering has been called to ensure that competent leaders are not deprived of election tickets, said Siwakoti, who was elected central committee member from the Koirala panel. “Our party president is more concerned about ensuring fairness in seat allocation among the ruling parties while he has ignored a large section of our own party members in the process,” complained the leader.
The Deuba faction is also well aware that these gatherings called by the Koirala camp are aimed at piling pressure on the party president as he is directly overseeing ticket distribution, according to a leader close to Deuba.
“They might be unhappy with the party’s PR list, but we ourselves have not seen the list yet,” said Min Bishwakarma, a leader from the Deuba camp. He said the Koirala camp’s activities might have been aimed at piling pressure to extract more seats for their candidates under the FPTP category. As per the timeline given by the Election Commission, the FPTP candidates will register their candidacies on October 9.
“The motive behind their bringing party leaders and cadres to Kathmandu for holding separate gatherings is clear. If they are able to secure tickets to more of their leaders, then the sole credit for that will go to Koirala. But if only a few people will get tickets, then it would be easier for them to blame Deuba. This is a clever tactic by the Koriala camp,” said Bishwakarma.