Congress leaders seek answers after party’s abrupt exit from powerSome accuse Deuba coterie members of misleading the party chief.
A day after Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal became prime minister with the backing of the CPN-UML and several other parties, Nepali Congress leaders blamed their party president and immediate past prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba of making a strategic blunder by failing to save the ruling alliance and pushing the party to an uncertain future.
Dahal broke ties with the Congress-led alliance and joined the CPN-UML camp on Sunday after Deuba ignored suggestions from party colleagues Ram Chandra Paudel and others to allow Dahal to become prime minister for the first half of the new parliament’s term.
Besides the Maoist Centre, the new UML-led alliance has the Rastriya Swatantra Party, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, the Nagarik Unmukti Party, the Janamat Party, the Janata Samajbadi Party and a few independent lawmakers.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari administered the oath of office to Dahal on Monday and he immediately announced an eight-member cabinet.
In the Congress, leaders have accused members of the Deuba coterie including his wife Arzu Deuba Rana, Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, Bimalendra Nidhi and party spokesperson Prakash Sharan Mahat of misleading Deuba.
But a leader close to Deuba said that Arzu was not involved in the political haggling that had been continuing at Baluwatar for the past few days, but accused the other members of the coterie of encouraging Deuba to make wrong decisions.
“I told Deuba several times that communists will scheme to get him out of office, but he did not listen to me,” said Poudel, adding, “Now we’ve lost everything, from President to provincial governments.”
A Congress leader blamed Deuba’s wife Arzu and some foreign powers for “the debacle.”
Following the new political development, some Congress leaders have suggested that Deuba should resign from party chief. Leaders said calls are also growing for summoning meetings of the central working committee and party parliamentary.
“The Congress has lost power despite being the largest party in parliament. The party leadership is solely responsible for the dismal failure,” said Lokraj Baral, a professor and former ambassador. “In other countries, the party leader would take responsibility and immediately resign, but we don’t expect such things from Nepali leaders.”
“When you have an alliance then member parties always demand a bigger share of power. Deuba’s coterie failed to objectively analyse the situation and foresee the future, so they should be held responsible for the mess the Congress is in. But the new ruling alliance will not go for long, so now the Congress should remain in the opposition and wait,” said Baral.
Some Congress leaders said Dahal breached the “coalition culture” and worked against the spirit of parliamentary democracy.
“The situation has posed a serious question: Why didn’t the alliance under Deuba didn’t work. We all should try to find the answers,” said another senior Congress leader Dr Shekhar Koirala.
“Now the Nepali Congress has no choice but to come forward, energetic and united, with new thinking and approach.” Koirala said in a statement, adding there is no reason to be sad.
Other Congress leaders said the coming days are not going to be easy for Dahal as well. “Dahal’s is a prickly path and it’s only a matter of time when misunderstandings will ensue between Oli and Dahal,” said a leader wishing to remain unnamed.
Gururaj Ghimire, a leader close to the dissident Koirala-Thapa camp in the party didn’t mince words: “Deuba should resign from both party president and leader of the parliamentary party on moral grounds.”
The days ahead are difficult for Deuba as the Koirala-Thapa opposition will do all to corner the party chief, said a Congress leader, with some claiming that the opposition camp might demand that the party call a special convention.
But Ramhari Khatiwada, a lawmaker who is close to Deuba, rejected suggestions that Deuba should quit as party chief. “Why should he resign? Also I don’t see any need for a special convention. Issues will be raised at the upcoming central committee, but I am confident Deuba will overcome any pressures.”