Kingmakers in Cong: It’s quid pro quoIn the next general convention of the Nepali Congress (NC) in March next year, Sushil Koirala, Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Poudel are set to vie for party presidency.
In the next general convention of the Nepali Congress (NC) in March next year, Sushil Koirala, Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Poudel are set to vie for party presidency. As the party gears up to elect its new leadership, some key leaders like Arjun Narsingh KC, Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Prakash Man Singh, Purna Bahadur Khadka and Khum Bahadur Khadka have emerged as kingmakers. And these leaders have their own ambitions, which could swing the leadership contest.
NC’s general convention is slated for March 3-6.
As these second-rung leaders hold sway over party rank and file at the grassroots level, they are driving a hard bargain to secure lucrative party positions to throw their weight behind party presidential candidate—a simple quid pro quo.
KC has invested a lot of time to expand his support base and built a good rapport with local level cadres. “I want to be an elected general secretary,” KC told the Post, in a clear indication that his confidence has but grown in the last five years to claim the third powerful position in the party. During party’s general convention in 2010, KC had secured second highest votes (2,034), out of approximately 3,000 votes cast, to get elected to the party’s central working committee (CWC).
KC, who has been a key member of the Koirala faction, is contemplating changing the camp. He could support Deuba, according to his associates, who say he feels betrayed by Koirala. Leaders say during the 12th general convention, the Koirala camp had assured him the post of general secretary, but the promise never materialised. KC is also furious with Koirala after he was not given any role in the government and Parliament.
Khum Bahadur Khadka, who got elected to the CWC securing third highest votes during the 2010 convention, is regarded as an influential leader within NC. Khadka, former home minister, has a stronghold in his home district Dang. But he was sidelined after he was convicted of corruption. He is close to Deuba. Khadka too is seeking a vital post within the party—something Deuba finds difficult to fulfil given his tainted image, according Deuba’s aides. Khadka has been paying court to Poudel as well.
Incumbent General Secretary Prakash Man Singh, son of late veteran leader Ganesh Man Singh, could also make a huge difference during the convention. Though Singh is preparing to run for party vice president from the Koirala faction, he could switch camp if he fails to secure endorsement from the Koirala camp for deputy leader’s position.
Purna Bahadur Khadka, joint-general secretary of the party, harbours the ambition of getting elected as party’s general secretary. He is close to the Deuba faction but faces stiff competition from leaders such as Bimalendra Nidhi and Chitra Lekha Yadav within the camp. In addition, Deuba is mulling over offering general secretary to some leaders from the Koirala camp to ensure his own victory. This could prompt Khadka to switch camp. Another key figure is Krishna Sitaula, a nominated general secretary.
He distanced himself from Koirala soon after constitution promulgation. He lacks strong base in the party, but is known as a “shrewd operator”. He played a key role during peace and constitution drafting processes.
Sitaula has not openly spoken about his candidacy. “Given the leadership role he played during the constitution drafting process, he has strengthened his position,” said NC leader Gagan Thapa.
Arjun Narsingh KC
- Wishes to become elected general secretary
- Has built good rapport with cadres at local level
- Feels betrayed by the Koirala camp
- Could support Koirala only if he is assured the post of general secretary
Krishna Prasad Sitaula
- Nominated general secretary
- Played vital role in concluding peace process and statute drafting
- Has distanced himself from Koirala after the constitution promulgation
- Has tilted towards Deuba of late
Prakash Man Singh
- Elected general secretary of the party
- Had aligned with Deuba to form NC (Democratic)
- After party unification, Singh came to Koirala camp
- Preparing to contest for the post of party vice president from Koirala faction
Purna Bahadur Khadka
- Party’s joint general secretary
- Resigned from the post objecting to Koirala’s candidacy in prime ministerial election on Oct 11
- Close to Deuba
- Aspires to get elected as party’s general secretary from the Deuba camp
Khum Bahadur Khadka
- Regarded as an influential leader
- Holds sway over party rank and file
- Was convicted of corruption
- Close to Deuba
- Seeking a vital post, but difficult for Deuba to address his demand given his tainted image